Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2007

School board hears sports facility options

City, county don’t have proposals in budgets

September 20, 2007


School board members want options regarding outdoor athletic facilities

At this evening's board retreat, a majority of board members voiced support for hearing more about moving Lawrence High and Free State home football games from Haskell Stadium. Enlarge video

They want options.

During a Wednesday evening study session, several Lawrence school board members directed administrators to present scenarios with costs, including alternatives to playing home football games at Haskell Stadium.

"I personally think that we need to make a move for a facility over which we have control, definitely where football is played, because that's where we are totally dependent upon another provider," school board member Mary Loveland said.

After the discussion of outdoor athletic facilities, board members directed Superintendent Randy Weseman to report back to them with a list including costs of:

¢ Working together with Haskell Indian Nations University to improve the stadium, near 23rd Street and Barker Avenue, where Lawrence High School has played home games for decades and is also home to teams of Haskell and Free State High School.

¢ Developing a centralized district sports complex with plans for "probably varying looks," Weseman said.

¢ Upgrading the existing outdoor venues at each high school, for both practice and competition for outdoor sports.

The three-hour meeting with district and school administrators included discussions on several topics and a chance to provide focus on issues for the year.

Board members went into the most detail during the athletic facilities discussion. A springboard for the talks was the results of the recent Partners for Lawrence Athletics and Youth, or PLAY, committee that surveyed athletic needs and estimated costs for construction of different options.

Weseman also produced letters from both County Administrator Craig Weinaug and City Manager David Corliss who said, because of their budget situations, that neither government had budgeted funds to help partner to implement any PLAY proposals for 2007 or 2008.

That would narrow the focus of what board members would pursue, Weseman said.

Board member Marlene Merrill said the district could not continue to depend on another institution for its venues and that costs would likely point to upgrading existing facilities at each high school.

Board member Rich Minder said he supported facility upgrades that "function in the service of learning."

"It's hard for me philosophically to put embarrassment relative to other communities in our region very high on our list," Minder said.

The school district has a contract to pay Haskell $3,000 per game for both Free State and LHS to play home football games there for now. Board members and administrators also said they appreciated the district's long-standing relationship with Haskell.

"If you're going to put options together, let's put all of them together," board member Craig Grant said.

The discussion centered around football, but the larger discussion will involve soccer, softball and baseball, as well, board members said.

With rain falling outside, LHS Principal Steve Nilhas said the grass playing surface at Haskell can present difficulties with three teams playing on it throughout the season.

He said he did support working with Haskell to upgrade the stadium under a certain agreement. Nilhas said Free State Principal Joe Snyder was supportive of having "on-site facilities."

Loveland and Scott Morgan voiced the most support for a district stadium.

"We really won't know what (the best option) is until we see the numbers, but it may be time for a district facility," Morgan said.


Shelley Bock 10 years, 8 months ago

The School Board is finally taking appropriate steps towards facility development. Let's hope that plans are developed soon. Development of new facilities is long over due.

Stew 10 years, 8 months ago

I enjoy sports but this is yet another example of poor priority setting, shallow wants (or following the "Jones"), and short mindedness. Of course those who oppose building such a facility will be called jerks. Kind of like how a child (i.e., the proponents) feels toward a parent (i.e., the opponents) when a parent says no. This is truly sad.

Janet Lowther 10 years, 8 months ago

This town needs another football stadium like it needs an extra cranial orifice.

The schools waste enough money on sports as it is, without spending megabucks to own their very own stadium.

Godot 10 years, 8 months ago

You gotta hand it to the PLAY people. Not only are they well connected and influential, they are doggedly determined to have their way.

Dear PLAY: Establish a Recreation Facility foundation and start collecting free will donations for your project; stop trying to sneak your hands into the taxpayers' pockets.

Raider 10 years, 8 months ago

Wow! It amazes me how you people can take LHS and FSHS wanting to improve their athletic facilities and spin it into a comspiracy by PLAY. I suppose PLAY has some sort of voo-doo mind control over the school board, and are manipulating them to get a new hockey rink.

What is wrong with upgrading the athletic facilities for these kids? Haskell Stadium is old and outdated.

admireed 10 years, 8 months ago

When it comes to sports facilities money does not matter. Lawrence will find a way to spend millions to cater to "Friday Night Lights" fans

PCoffey56 10 years, 8 months ago

what money has been spent on sports you gotta be out of your mind when has the football team had money spent on it. we've been playing on the same field for 300 years. the school boards taking a step in the right direction and maybe if lhs doesn't want to have a disrict staduim they can use the money that they don't use to build an on site facility to revenate haskel.

Kathy Gates 10 years, 8 months ago

To paraphrase Raider, it amazes me how people can take LHS and FSHS wanting to improve their athletic facilities and spin it into another inane insult towards anyone who lives west of Kasold.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 8 months ago

Looks like we're back to using the schools to promote developers' wet dreams.

BigAl 10 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence is the ONLY school district in the state without a facility they can call their own, hang their own banners, profit from concessions, etc. These are used for much more than football. Even all of the smaller schools out west have their own. Some of them are very nice and a source of pride for their communities. I don't have any kids in the school system to use a new facility but I would definitely support one. It is past time. Like it or not, extra curricular activities are very important to our students, most parents and communities.

BigAl 10 years, 8 months ago

By the way, this issue has NOTHING to do with Johnson County, living West of Kasold or the dreams of developers. It has EVERYTHING to do with pride in the community and our kids.

Godot 10 years, 8 months ago

Why was this not included in the multi-million dollar upgrade that was just completed? Surely the Board knew about the shortcomings of the athletic facilities two years ago. It is extremely coincidental that they are considering the PLAY study shortly after PLAY was rebuffed by the city and the county.

Godot 10 years, 8 months ago

And, as we all know, there are no such things as "coincidents."

Kim Gouge 10 years, 8 months ago

Actually, there is no such thing as "coincidents."

hipper_than_hip 10 years, 8 months ago

Wouldn't a synthetic turf would take care of the wear & tear problem with the playing field?

honestone 10 years, 8 months ago

This is crazy... We built a 2nd high school we built a second Jr high tons of improvements now you want a new stadium... Loveland is on the board again who would have guessed

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