Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2007

School district, Haskell evaluate options for football field

August 23, 2007


Artificial turf discussed for Haskell Stadium

With three teams sharing the football field, Haskell Stadium takes a beating. Enlarge video

Haskell classes officially begin

The 2007 session marks the 123rd year for Haskell. Enlarge video

Audio Clips
Haskell's playing surface

With three football teams sharing the same field each fall, Haskell Stadium's playing surface can take a beating.

"We're held hostage by the rain," said Ted Juneau, a consultant at Haskell Indian Nations University. "If there's a major rain event, during or right before a game, then obviously the field is not going to be in very good shape."

Lawrence High School athletic director Ron Commons said that a few years ago an LHS game was moved to Kansas University's Memorial Stadium because administrators determined Haskell's field was not safe to play on because of heavy rainfall and wear and tear.

"You never know what Mother Nature is going to bring to you, and last year, it was still playable at the end of the season," Commons said.

In addition to Haskell and LHS, Free State High School plays home games on the field at 23rd Street and Barker Avenue.

Haskell and school district administrators say playing on an artificial surface would be optimal. But no action is expected on that issue anytime soon, because both Haskell and the school district are evaluating their outdoor athletic facilities.

Although officials from Haskell and the district met last week to discuss this football season, participants said an artificial surface was not part of the talks. The school district pays Haskell $3,000 per game, according to a contract.

Juneau is evaluating Haskell's athletic department at the request of new university President Linda Sue Warner. He said he likely will submit a report in October that will center on the field, as well as many other issues. Juneau, a former LHS basketball coach and Central Junior High School principal, said no one would argue about the benefits of an artificial field, but money is an issue.

"With budget limitations that are out here, obviously that's a constraint," he said.

Linda Robinson, president of the Lawrence school board, said board members have not given Superintendent Randy Weseman authority to pursue working with Haskell on an artificial surface.

Weseman said he would make a presentation to board members in September about all secondary athletic facilities. He then would ask board members to provide direction, he said.

"I think this needs to be at the forefront of our facility planning right now. I just believe it's at a critical stage," Weseman said.

According to the group Partners for Lawrence Athletics and Youth, renovation of Haskell Stadium would cost about $7.4 million. That would include new artificial turf, four new locker rooms, and improvements to restrooms and concession areas.

"For right now, we have a plan to play on, in cooperation with Haskell, and we appreciate their willingness to allow us to play on their field," Weseman said.


cowboy 10 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like Haskell needs a lobbyist in DC

yankeelady 10 years, 10 months ago

I'd love to see the district build their own facility. Something like the Olathe center, or Hummer complex in Topeka. Haskell isn't that great a venue, parking is awful , especially if it rains. There are worse things to spend money on.

PCoffey56 10 years, 10 months ago

Enough of all this talk, some action needs to be taken or else we'll be playing in the dirt for another 50 years. My dad played on the same field that i do. Lawrence needs to upgrade it facilities to match those in olathe and Shawnee mission THEY HAVE TWO...each!!! yet lawrence is to stuburn to build even one that can be considered deicent. last year durning the playoffs haskel was dirt from hash mark to hash mark...yeah real playable. and if LHS wants to play on Haskel then FS should get somthing to call there own too. less talk, more action.

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 10 months ago

And how much work are you willing to do to build the necessary support? How many mills are you willing to see passed so the District can have its own facilities? It's easy to say "enough talk" or "let's build our own." It's something else entirely to ~do something~ about it. I'm also wondering what the "worse things to spend money on" might be--I hope they wouldn't be teachers' salaries, educational materials, or classrooms.

cutny 10 years, 10 months ago

"Held hostage" seems like a bit of an overstatement, Mr. Juneau. Kinda like calling the quarterback a "hero."

Bud Stagg 10 years, 10 months ago

We should spend more money on the T so the 700 riders can ride. Forget about the thousands who use sports facilities in this town. Improve the facilities and attract more taxpayers to live here. They pay more taxes and we can improve more things.

The Way out of this mess is not to cut, it is to grow.

KS 10 years, 10 months ago

If Haskell owns the facitlity, which they do, then as the landlord it is their responsibility to fix it up, not the school district. I can only assume that Haskell enjoys the rent they receive. If they would like that to continue, then they have the responsiblity of maintaining the property so as to be desirable to lease. My bet is that they have spent all of the money on something else. The BIA has more money than the Lawerence School District. I would start there for the money.

PCoffey56 - I still drive on the roads that my Dad and Grandfather drove on 50 years ago. The difference is that the owner (cities and state) have maintained them whereas Haskell has not. I am sure that the school district wastes some of their money too. Just a little bit each year into an endowment fund can make a bunch of difference years later. Short sightedness on the part of all.

waydownsouth 10 years, 10 months ago

I realize this may be a stupid question but why are they not using the KU stadium. Its used for graduation why not football games?

doc1 10 years, 10 months ago

I agree with some of the posts. Build a decent facilty that we can be proud of. Haskell is a Dump! No matter how you look at it.

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 10 months ago

Stadiums are massive structures with fields that are expensive to maintain and they sit empty and unused the vast majority of the time... It doesn't make any sense to have any more of them than what is needed... If we're going to spend money lets spend it on upgrading the existing stadium and then budget for keeping it in good shape...

Shawnee Mission has 5 high schools and Olathe has 4:

Jo_Mama 10 years, 10 months ago

Obviously People here in Lawrence are culturally ignorant when it comes to Haskell Indian Nations University! I find it strange that people in this community don't know about Haskell or the history of Haskell especially when it comes to BIA Funds. Here's some advice get a clue people! And learn about all the issues about something before you past judgement on something like the stadium at Haskell. KU gets millions of dollars to keep up with maintance and so fourth. Haskell doesn't even get half of what KU gets!!!

jennifermarti 10 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence does need new sports facilities-they are all awful. And yes Haskell is a dump, but as usual they want someone else to pay for the improvement.

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 10 months ago

Haskell is a classic, historic old stadium that should be repaired, renovated and preserved...

jennifermarti 10 years, 10 months ago

Why would haskell get anything like the funding Ku gets? As if Haskell is on the same level as KU. Not to mention brings any money into the community-get real!

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 10 months ago

jennifermarti Hmmm... Haskell doesn't bring any money into the community? Do you believe that? Or are you just spouting off?

jennifermarti 10 years, 10 months ago

I made that comment in response to funding being compared to KU. As far as Haskell's stadium is concerned yes I do mean that. Do people come into Lawrence to watch Haskell football games, eat out, stay in hotels, and shop? I doubt it. How many people even go to Haskell football games? The school's should have their own facilities and let haskell take care of Haskell.

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 10 months ago

jennifermarti The way it read I thought you meant that Haskell in general doesn't bring any money into the community...

As far as the stadium is concerned I don't think it's all that bad considering how old it is... and it wouldn't take that much money to make it nice... improve the parking... add bathrooms and concessions and generally spruce it up... It would be more than worth it...

Jim Thorpe played in that stadium:

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 10 months ago

And... considering the stunning number of State Championships that Lawrence High has won in football it would be silly to try and make any argument about how playing their home games in that stadium has hampered the LHS football program...

jennifermarti 10 years, 10 months ago

I think the stadium is historic too. My kids love it. Although is it really worth putting money into? I mean in the long run. I also just think it really sad to look at the surrounding communties and the sports facilities they have and Lawrence in comparison is terrible. And whether people want to admit it or not sports bring people to town. Adult and youth sports! The youth sports in Lawrence are awful too. I have lived in smaller communites than Lawrence and they had three times the activities for children. The rec has them playing in tiny little gyms because there is no where else to put them. I am not even sure what the problem is lack of money? Lack of people knowing how to run things? Either way it's bad.

jennifermarti 10 years, 10 months ago

The state championships would have a lot to do with the fact there was only one highschool then. That's a lot of talent all in one school. Has there been a championship since the schools split? I am not saying it has hampered them, but it hasn't helped either. And playing somewhere the conditions are being questioned certainly is not helping them!

FredGarvin_MP 10 years, 10 months ago

waydownsouth: To answer your question, I do believe we can all thank Sweet Lou Perkins for not allowing the high school teams to play in his, errr, KU's field.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 10 months ago

Two things: 1)Having three teams play on one natural grass field is a little bit ridiculous. There really ought to be another field. It would take some money now, but it would be worth it over time. 2)Speaking of which, that figure sounds a little excessive to me. I know they could very well spend that much on stadium renovations, but do they need to spend that much? Is that stadium that run down?

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 10 months ago

jennifermarti You make some good points... but I still think it should be renovated... and the high schools should continue to use it...

And you're right about the split... it split the talent pool in half... but either or both schools will likely win more championships long before any other school gets anywhere close to winning as many as LHS has:

Now... if we were to build a new high school stadium... where would we build it?

And playing games at KU Memorial Stadium shouldn't even be considered... A few thousand people sitting in a stadium that holds what... 40 thousand? Something just not right about that...

StirrrThePot 10 years, 10 months ago

This will definitely go on the same list as the South Lawrence Trafficway. I see renovations happening long before I see a new facility for either the high schools or for Haskell. I wonder if the completion of the new KU football complex will make any difference, if KU will agree to more usage of Memorial by the high schools (I know they are not building a new field, just better facilities...just a thought)? If they could play more games on the Hill, that would help ease the wear and tear on Haskell. Lawrence P.S. pays Haskell $3000 per game, I wonder what they pay KU?

As a side note about the Hummer complex in Topeka. I grew up in T-town, and we played football games at Washburn. There was talk then (late 80s/early 90s) about a single large sports facility for the school district, and it finally became reality a few years ago. Man, it is niiiiiiice! Maybe someday the Lawrence schools will have something like this.

cowboy 10 years, 10 months ago

A few problems , the mooch mentality of Lawrence has put us in this situation , ignoring the need over the last two decades for a stadium , ignoring the need for parking at LHS , subjecting the neighbors to the kids cars 9 months out of the year. We don't need our own , we can mooch off of KU or Haskell.

The rent fee of $3000 per game doesn't amount to much of an annual renovation fund , Haskell probably benefits little and the district gets off on the cheap. KU spent $330,000 on the new turf alone at Memorial Stadium.

And poor little Haskell needs to hire a lobbyist to get some funding rolling in . Seems sad that when there is a ton of gov't money building roads to nowhere and many of the tribes around the country are finally getting some return on ventures and natural resource that there is not a better endowment revenue stream coming to the school. Or are they being punished for holding up the roads by our congressional delegation ?

formerfarmer 10 years, 10 months ago

LHS needs to come up with some money to pay for artificial turf. Just paying for the turf would be much cheaper than building a stadium. Then both schools benefit.

Confrontation 10 years, 10 months ago

"Haskell doesn't even get half of what KU gets!!!"

Haskell: An average enrollment of over 1000 students each semester (per the website)

KU: Spring enrollment 2007: 27,875 students

Hmmm...I wonder why Haskell doesn't get as much money?

waydownsouth 10 years, 10 months ago

Maybe having High School games at KU might not fill up the stands but its there its in perfect shape. The turf, parking and lights are there. Why not use what we already have? KU does not play on friday nights.

Bubarubu 10 years, 10 months ago

in re: HINU's funding, it's run by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, not the state government. Asking why they don't get the same treatment is absurd, not only because of their relative size and importance, but also because there are totally different people making the decisions. That's not to say that HINU shouldn't get more money, and it's not like the federal government has a history of doing right by native peoples, but comparing KU and and HINU is apples to pillows...or something equally silly.

ohjayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

A school in the county seat of the county I grew up in put in artificial turf last year for less than $2.5million (that figure also included other improvements)... all from privately raised monies. This is a school district with a total of 724 students in a city of about 16,000. They also do not have anywhere close to a similar football-rich history as Lawrence. I guess the biggest difference is the fact that the stadium was already owned by the school district.

Stephen Roberts 10 years, 10 months ago

I know schools in other districts that play on fields right behind their school. The field is not better than Haskell. The district CHOSE to spend money on ACADEMICS and TEACHERS SALARY instead of ATHLETICS.

I guess it is an easy solution, build a stadium for football. Who is going to pay for it? If PLAY wants a new stadium, start raising the money, build it yourselves, and then rent it to the school district.

Too many people want the government or schools to pay for things, that benefit the few.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 10 months ago

Regarding turf: my local high school (in Michigan) is currently installing artificial turf, and the bill comes to something like $850,000. The school district paid for the complete renovation of the stadium the year before, but the turf is being funded entirely by private money.

Regarding multiple high schools in one town: the talent split is a relatively minor concern. Ann Arbor has two high schools, and they've still managed to put together more than a few successful teams. Their biggest problem isn't the split population, but their insistence on having too many sports. That, I think, has diluted the talent pool much more than the split. (They're currently building a third high school; we'll see if that has an appreciable effect on athletic success.)

But in my view, the biggest problem with multiple high schools is the split loyalty within the community. I live in a smaller town, and having one high school means everyone can get together and support one team. When you build multiple high schools, the town can't get behind one team; part of the town gets behind one team, and part gets behind the other. I know the father -- who coached in a multiple-school town -- of one of the lower-level (middle school) football coaches told him he should get a job in a one-school town.

I know there are probably financial effects, too, and I know at a certain point it's just not possible to avoid having multiple high schools. But in my mind, that's a blow to high school athletics for reasons bigger than talent and funding splits.

Not that that had anything to do with anything. But I had to say it.

BigAl 10 years, 10 months ago

It is time for our school district to have their own facilities. I would bet that USD Lawrence has the worse facilities, by far, throughout our league, district and maybe the state. To my knowledge, all other 6A schools have their own facilities. Why shouldn't Lawrence.

ranger73 10 years, 10 months ago

I think last year when LHS or FSHS was supposed to play at KU's stadium, the LJW had an article about the cost to the school district for the game. I could be wrong, but I think it was well over $3000. It seems to make sense that with so much supposed support for keeping both teams playing at Haskell, those people should be the ones to start a push with private funding to renovate the stadium and put turf down. If the support/outside funding is there, I would guess the school district and Haskell would be much more supportive of looking at those renovations.

riverdrifter 10 years, 10 months ago

Baker University and Baldwin High struck a deal to put down the latest state-of-the-art whatchamacallit turf at Canvaness Field. For crying in a bucket, why could this not be done at Haskell? It should be doable and would be beautiful. Throw in a track, to boot.

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