Pride is driving push for stadium
EDITOR: I sat through the discussion of the District’s Master Facilities Plan at the School Board meeting the evening of June 6 and came away with the impression there is some agreement among those on both sides of the issue of how to prioritize spending of the $120 million of School Bond funds to meet the needs of the 21st century. Yes, there was differing emphasis, but few if any of the parents, sport teams or neighbors disagreed with the premise of improving both athletic and academic facilities.
The priority lists developed by committees and architects recommend and support needs for both new or improved athletic/physical education facilities and many academic facilities across all eleven campuses of the district. A need for soccer fields, running tracks and multipurpose/PE rooms at three of the 11 campuses in the district, a stadium at the high school, a pool, replacement of aging undersized temporary classrooms at many of the campuses and technology upgrades at practically all facilities led the lists of priority projects addressed at the meeting.
There is, however, a sticking point. Do we need a football style stadium at the high school? Does the mix of projects underway, such as the all-weather soccer facility at Adele Harrison and all the Master Plan recommended athletic/PE projects at the other campuses solve the issue or do we also need a $10 million 2,500-seat football style stadium? There are $220 million worth of projects identified in the Master Plan. The bond issue is for only $120 million and with the district hoping to reserve 10 to 15 percent of this for future contingencies, spreading the funds around will prove difficult given the volume and scope of all the projects.
Why a football stadium? The difficulty of even fielding a freshman team would indicate a declining interest in football. This is not a reflection on the dedicated coaches or staff, rather it may be the reality of changing times. Is soccer taking precedence for our students? If so then a football style stadium with announcing booths, team rooms and seating for 2,500 is overkill.
There are some rational solutions. The district needs to take a hard look at the suggested cooperative agreement with the County that could allow district spending on the needed upgrades to Arnold Field to improve the football experience there at a fraction of the cost of a new stadium. Already in place is much of the necessary structure including space to extend the field. The basics of a lighting system, stands and, most importantly, plenty of parking is already there. Even in Arnold Field’s current state, varsity baseball prefers to stay at Arnold.
The proposed football stadium at the high school could be downsized to a more reasonable soccer/track facility with far less seating at a much-reduced cost. Pride in our school as measured by a new football stadium seemed to drive some comments. A nice soccer facility at the high school along with all the planned soccer/track fields at four of the elementary and middle school sites should go a long way toward solving the issue of pride.
‘Yes’ to thoughtful growth
EDITOR: To the Sonoma City Council, which will soon be voting on the Hotel Project Sonoma. We want you to know in no uncertain terms that we support this project.