It appears that the Lawrence School District is close to reaching a solution on how it will move forward in the ongoing stadium saga that has been the talk of the town for months.
Whether that solution will have an immediate impact on the local high school sports scene remains to be seen.
Thursday, district administrators released the specifics on a project that would include installing lights, 4,000-seat bleachers, artificial turf and restrooms at the track facilities at Free State and Lawrence high schools.
The new venues, officials said, could be ready by the fall.
On Friday, the varsity football coaches at both schools offered their thoughts about the proposal.
"I know our district administrators are working extremely hard," Free State coach Bob Lisher said. "And I know they're doing their very best to find a solution. We've shuffled our kids around between Haskell and KU, and it would be nice to finally have a place of our own."
Lawrence High coach Dirk Wedd said he believed the primary goal was to find the best solution for the city as a whole.
"We're kind of treading water," Wedd said. "And we've been treading water for a few years. I appreciate that the district is stepping up and trying to get something done. The relationship we have with Haskell is very good, but the bigger picture is what's best for kids and the city."
Both Lisher and Wedd said they thought the latest proposal put them closer to resolution than ever before.
The School Board will consider options for improving high school athletic facilities without a tax increase or bond issue at its 7 p.m. Monday meeting.
The options include continuing to rent Haskell Stadium at a cost of $5,000 per game, or adding new, smaller stadiums at each high school campus. District officials said the smaller stadiums could be used to bridge the gap until a district facility, similar to those found in Olathe or Topeka's Hummer Sports Park, could be built.
The chief concern about joining the masses, however, is that Lawrence's athletic teams would lose the unique feel of Haskell Stadium and would essentially be playing in a cookie-cutter venue.
That doesn't have to be the case, according to Lisher and Wedd.
"I hear people talk about sterile stadiums," Lisher said. "But I look at Hummer Sports Park or the stadium at Shawnee Mission North or what they have in Olathe and I see beautiful stadiums."
Wedd agreed, and said building something new did not have to spell the end of Lawrence being unique.
"If they tell me to play in a parking lot, I'll play in a parking lot," Wedd said. "But I don't think the city of Lawrence accepts average. The city doesn't want Free State or Lawrence High to be average. Building something special is going to take some thought and some creativity, but there are people out there who are interested in doing it."