Guido: Two historic stadiums to get facelifts
Two of the Alle-Kiski Valley's most iconic, small-town stadiums could be getting facelifts in the near future.
Tarentum's Dreshar Stadium and Freeport's James Swartz Memorial Field, sites of many historic high school events, are scheduled for renovations.
Both facilities are owned by their respective boroughs, which plan uses where high school sports no longer are played.
Tarentum is hoping for an Allegheny County gaming fund grant of $500,000 for sandblasting, repainting and railing replacement. Restrooms also will be renovated.
Dreshar Stadium was built in 1938 as part of the Works Progress Administration program under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It originally was known as RiverView Stadium, part of Tarentum's RiverView Park area.
In 1940, the Tarentum Redcats won the WPIAL Class AA title on their home field against Mt. Pleasant Ramsay under coach John Dreshar.
Soon after the game, Dreshar accepted the coaching job at Beaver Falls. But Dreshar was diagnosed with brain cancer before coaching a game at Beaver Falls and died shortly thereafter.
Borough officials decided to rename the stadium in his honor.
Tarentum played football there until 1967, the final season before the merger with Har-Brack formed Highlands.
Springdale rented Dreshar Stadium from 1973-76 while Veterans Memorial Field was being renovated.
The last high school football game was played there on Oct. 30, 1976, when the Dynamos defeated Ford City, 32-14.
Since it is unlikely high school football ever will be played again at Dreshar Stadium, it's safe to say Ray Davis, Springdale's athletic director, scored the last touchdown on the field, a 16-yard pass from Steve Misutka with 4 minutes, 5 seconds left in the game.
The Highland Hornets youth football team used Dreshar until the group built its own stadium about 10 years ago in the Karns section of Harrison Township.
Highlands Little League has put two diamonds within the stadium confines.
Tarentum officials also will look at a walking trail and track surrounding the stadium, notable with its Belgian block wall.
Freeport held a town meeting in late June to look at changes to the Swartz field.
Borough council has a shot at a $100,000 state grant with a local match to renovate the field in some fashion. Freeport council would like to make a decision by the end of the year on three options.
One option or concept that has attracted at least verbal support from those who milled around outside the meeting site two weeks ago would reduce the home-run distances at the baseball field, develop a walking trail, upgrade the playground equipment, restrooms and concession stands, among other ideas.
Members of the Freeport parks and recreation committee tasked with studying field uses said youth football and soccer remains a possibility.
The annual Freeport International Baseball Invitational will be headquartered there next week.Tarentum has a wildly popular spray park for children at RiverView Park, something Freeport also is considering.
Swartz Field hosted high school football for 76 seasons until Freeport built a stadium on its campus in Buffalo Township. The stadium is named after the long-time public works director in Freeport, whose son, James Jr., is the town's mayor.
The famous games played at that facility, particularly high school football-wise, are too numerous to mention here.
The two biggest crowds there were in the 5,200 to 5,300 range.One was Oct. 4, 1947 when the stadium installed lights, and temporary bleachers had to be brought in. Bud Carson was the Freeport quarterback that night. On Nov. 1, 1985, Freeport and Jeannette matched undefeated records.
Weeks afterwards, people still were wondering where everybody parked.
George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.