Boosters have big plans for Weller Field, Standard Bank Stadium
The Ligonier Valley High School Football Boosters hope to raise more than $1.4 million to replace the football field, resurface the track and install a new press box at Standard Bank Stadium in Ligonier, the home of Weller Field.
“A state-of-the-art facility won't only benefit our athletes and our school district, but the whole community. The district could host band competitions and playoff games, which will bring people into town to shop at our businesses and eat at our restaurants,” said Christy Boyd, treasurer of the boosters.
Several boosters members met with Athletic Director Brett Miller, Maintenance Director Bob Losier, school Director Irma Hutchinson, who heads the district athletic committee, and former high school principal Ron Baldonieri last year to discuss what was needed at the field.
Included on the list is a new scoreboard, handicapped-accessible bleachers for the away side of the stadium, locker room additions, a new walkway, new parking, an updated practice field and a new public address system.
Boyd spoke at a school board meeting early this month to solicit district support.
“I realize that education is the No. 1 priority of the school district, and that's how it should be. But we're just trying to raise money on our own. We aren't asking the district or the taxpayers to fund this project at all. We're just seeking permission to raise our own money on behalf of the school district,” Boyd said.
Hutchinson said the group's mission is noble, but there needs to be discussion among the administrators before any construction can take place.
“The standards and regulations (from local and state governments) are absolutely crazy when you're doing something on public property with public money,” she said. “When you're dealing with school district property, there has to be some sort of prioritization on what should be done first.”
“Soliciting funds and working on these types of projects is a wonderful way to engage in your community and help the district,” superintendent Chris Oldham added. “But there are so many components to these types of projects. And ultimately this does become a school district project.”
Hutchinson said administrators were expected to meet this week to discuss the project.
A new press box will likely be the first priority, Oldham said.
The boosters also offered to purchase the bleachers still sitting at Laurel Valley Middle/High School. Some months ago, district officials advertised the sale of the bleachers, but later rejected the only formal bid.
“People in wheelchairs have to wheel out onto the track to enjoy the game,” Boyd said. “During a playoff game last year, the number of people who had to stand on the track was embarrassing. And it's difficult for coaches and players to do their jobs while there's a bunch of people standing on the track.”
School directors considered moving the bleachers from Laurel Valley to the Ligonier stadium, but a study conducted by Miller showed there were between 375 and nearly 1,000 open seats at football games between September and November.
“Are you sometimes sitting elbow to elbow with people cheering for the other team? Yes, but I don't mind it,” Hutchinson said. “They cheer for their team and I cheer for ours.”
The boosters received an anonymous donation of bleachers from another source last week. They can accommodate 80 additional people, but will be a “temporary fix” until the group can afford handicapped-accessible bleachers, Boyd said.
Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.