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Committee suggests new stadium at Owens Field above Apollo

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009

Apollo-Ridge School District should build a new football stadium -- and they should build it at Owens Field.

That's the recommendation from an ad-hoc committee formed by the district to study the question of where to play football games in the future.

The school board is expected to vote Monday on accepting the committee's recommendation, but board President Gregory Primm said the vote will be only on where to have the football field — not on a full plan for renovations.

Deciding whether to build a new facility or renovate what's already there will be an even bigger task than where to have the field, Primm said.

"What's more economically and financially prudent to do• Those are the decisions that will be made," he said.

The committee, consisting of three school board members and the district's athletic director and business manager, suggested that a new facility be built at Owens Field rather than moving football games to a new facility at the high school campus in the Spring Church section of Kiski Township.

"The consensus of the committee is that construction of a new facility at the Owens Field location provides the best option for the school district and surrounding communities," the committee's recommendation says.

The committee is calling for final design to start as soon as possible and that construction move forward quickly.

"The stadium facility represents a significant school district and community asset that should be maintained," the report says.

Located atop a hill above Apollo, Owens Field is the oldest athletic field in the Alle-Kiski Valley still in use. The stadium land was donated by the Owens family in 1919 for community recreation.

District officials have said the 2,000-seat stadium is in severe need of safety upgrades.

A boosters group has lobbied to continue use of Owens Field and worked to raise money to refurbish the field, bleachers, field house and fence.

The committee recommendation says a full replacement that would last 50 years is a better long-term use of money than renovating the existing field.

While moving to the high school campus may benefit school operations, it would cause hardship for Apollo and North Apollo residents. It would also hurt the economies of those communities and, in turn, the district.

Primm said building at the high school would cost more, and cost is a major consideration.

A facility at the high school campus would have to use artificial turf, because there is no room for a practice field. Staying at Owens Field offers the best solution on infrastructure concerns such as parking, traffic and utilities.

The committee suggests that a new facility have lights to maximize its use.

It also suggests the board adopt policies to eliminate busing students to and from the high school and instead have participants report directly to the field; secure the facility when not in use; use security cameras to monitor the facility; charge non-school functions a fee to cover operation and maintenance costs; and require security for all scheduled activities.

Additional Information:

Coming up

Who: Apollo-Ridge School Board

What: Vote to accept a committee's recommendation to continue use of Owens Field

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Where: High school community room, Route 56, Kiski Township

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