Archive for Thursday, November 1, 2007

Kobza: Growth drives need for new stadium

November 1, 2007

Construction of a new district stadium would be one of several improvements to be made if the $45 million school bond package passes on Nov. 6. Eudora USD 491 officials say that the need for a new stadium was included because of the population growth.
"Thirty years ago when Laws Field was built, it was a source of community pride," Superintendent Marty Kobza said. "At that time, it was one of the finer facilities in the area, but the fact is that we've just outgrown it.
The new facility would be called Eudora District Stadium but the field itself would be named Laws-Kerr Field. It would be located on the western side of the high school campus and would feature seating for over 4,000 spectators, durable new field turf, permanent field markings for football and soccer, an eight-lane regulation track and improved facilities and restrooms.
The new stadium would cost $2.9 million. However, as a result of using field turf instead of grass, the school district would save a minimum of $434,000 over 10 years. Soccer, track, football, band and dance teams all would have access to the stadium
"Equity is the key to this," Kobza said. "We're not favoring football or track or soccer -- we're treating the kids equally."
Varsity football games appear to be the biggest draw, attracting as many as 3,000 to 4,000 spectators. However, the seating capacity at Laws Field is 1,700. Space also is an issue for track and field teams at both the high school and middle school levels. But it is space on the field, as opposed to in the stands that is bothersome.
"Space becomes a problem because our middle school and high school teams practice at the same time," Eudora Middle School athletic director and high school track coach Phil Katzenmeier said. "When we're all there together, we have 150 kids on the track, so two more lanes would impact that.
"We have the worst facilities of anywhere we compete."
Some Eudora residents don't oppose the bond, so much as the fact that the construction of a new stadium was added onto the bond.
"I'm totally for better education; the smarter the kids, the smarter the adults," Eudora resident Matt Montgomery said. "It (the new stadium) shouldn't be part of the bond. I think in the big picture that they should be looking for classroom space. "
Eudora school board members have said that addressing classroom space was their first priority and that construction of facilities that would directly affect getting students and teachers out of modular units and into classrooms be at the top of the list.
Montgomery also said the current stadium's location was just fine.
"I think the field should stay where it's at because it's more accessible," he said. "It's just right off K-10 and everyone can see the signs of all the businesses that support the team as they come into town. It's a great location."
However, the location of the field is a logistical thorn in the side of Katzenmeier.
"You have to schedule a bus everyday for your kids just to work out, you have to schedule a bus for home track meets, so having a field on site makes a huge difference just for our transportation department," he said.
Katzenmeier also is worried about the safety of students as a result of constantly bussing them to and from the middle school.
"It will only take one accident and you'll pay more than you'll pay for a new stadium," he said. "The logistics all point to having it here (at the high school)."
Though cost and safety are important details to consider, school district officials understand that Laws Field means more than that to the people of Eudora.
"There's some emotional ties and memories and I completely understand that, but I believe that there was the same sentiment when people moved from Kerr Field to Laws Field," Kobza said. "Just like the district outgrew Kerr, we've outgrown Laws and for the sake of the students and the safety of everyone involved, we really have to do something."

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