Kiski Area's work on athletic facilities progressing
The turf installation for two new Kiski Area athletic facilities is nearing completion, but the overall work on those facilities might still be in the early stages.
Artificial turf installation on a soccer field behind the intermediate school and on a field behind the high school that has a surrounding track should be finished and ready for use by Thanksgiving, Kiski Area High School principal Chad Roland said.
That work could be the precursor for more extensive work in the coming years, including the installation of lights and bleachers, with the district potentially eyeing the possibility of hosting varsity soccer and football games on campus.
“We want to grow a stadium,” Roland said. “We're going to be in contact with some companies, looking to maybe potentially get some naming rights and other options.”
The turf installation cost $1.2 million and was funded partially by a $200,000 NFL Foundation grant the district received in August. Roland said he didn't want future expenses to be “on the backs of taxpayers,” so the district would seek other sources of funding for more extensive work.
“It may be as soon as a year and maybe be as long as five,” he said. “It all depends on a lot of different things. I will say this: We've had a lot of excitement from the community around it. We've had a lot of alumni contact us and want to know how they can help and how they can get things moving.”
After the turf installation, the field behind the high school includes painted end zones and soccer and football lines. The work on the track is not fully completed, but Roland said it should be finished in the early spring. The facility can host football and soccer along with baseball and softball practices and physical education classes.
Right now, use for varsity football would be limited to practice because of a lack of lighting and seating.
Kiski Area plays home football and soccer games at Davis Field in Vandergrift, one of three remaining grass football fields in WPIAL Class AAAA. Roland, an assistant varsity football coach at Kiski, said he respects the tradition of Davis Field, the Cavaliers' home since the district was formed in 1962, but he believes the facility could be of more use to the entire community.
“I think there's a lot of ways the community as a whole can use Davis Field,” Roland said. “Right now, unfortunately, because of the surface being natural surface, we have to protect that field all year round to make sure it's playable for our soccer team, our football team and our band competition. Therefore, that limits everyone from using it. Right now, we kind of have a monopoly on utilizing it.”
“To me, it doesn't really matter,” varsity football coach Dave Heavner said. “There's a lot of people we play against, and they look forward to coming to Davis Field and playing in that kind of atmosphere there. ... Certainly, practicing on that field is going to help because practicing on grass throughout the season if it's raining or if it's cold, if it's muddy or the grass gets torn up, that makes it difficult to practice.”
Latrobe could serve as a blueprint for Kiski's stadium project. The district recently unveiled new on-campus turf fields for football, baseball and softball.
The football field, which hosted a WPIAL Class AA second-round playoff game between Washington and Apollo-Ridge last week, the first varsity game played on the surface, will be used only for football practices by the host school, said Latrobe athletic director Mark Mears.
Youth games also have been played there.
Latrobe varsity football games still will be played at Memorial Stadium in downtown Latrobe. Other sports, such as soccer, will play games on the new field.
Mears said there are groups in favor of playing football at the new field and others who want to remain at Memorial Stadium. He said the new stadium holds about 2,000 and more seats and parking would be needed to host Latrobe's Class AAAA games.
His advice to Kiski Area is this: “They should make sure they are set for the next 30 years,” Mears said. “When we did this project, we tried to visualize the future. The goal is bring all of our teams and the community closer with everything (on campus).”
Roland said although he appreciated the history of Davis Field, the district also is keeping an eye on the future.
“At some point, we've got to look at a bigger picture and say, ‘Is it smart to utilize (Davis Field) the way that it's always been utilized?' ” Roland said. “At this point, I just think that a stadium at the school is the direction. And what I'd like to do is, as a community member, figure out ways we can honor our past and really make Davis Field something the community can enjoy as a whole.”