Watching traditions go away

Tradition.

That is the biggest thing that is going to be lost this fall as construction continues into football season at Stadium Field.

As one who has watched high school football games from Parkersburg to Martinsburg and Bluefield to New Manchester, I’ve yet to find another high school football stadium in the Mountain State that can match the atmosphere that takes place at Stadium Field on fall Friday nights.

Wherever else PHS ends up playing its games -and let’s hope at some point in the season, hopefully sooner rather than later, it gets back to Stadium Field -it isn’t going to be the same. Can you imagine one of the persons being inducted into the school’s Football Hall of Fame but having your ceremony take place in Marietta?

In addition to losing the advantage of playing at home, Parkersburg also will suffer financially. Crowds likely will be down, thus hurting the gate. Rent will have to be paid to use another facility. And groups that depend on concession money from football -like the PHS wrestling team -also will be hurt.

Parkersburg Catholic, whose football team also calls the stadium home, has been forced to move its home games to Jackson Middle School.

The News and Sentinel Tiny Tot Trot and Junior Races, which take place on Sunday of half marathon week, had made Stadium Field its home. Now, that big event also will take place at Jackson. It still will be a quality event, but one of the special features was that the children participating got to run at Stadium Field.

The ramifications of the bleachers being deemed unsafe run deep. Yet, once that report was released, there was no choice but to close the bleachers and begin the long and expensive project to make them safe again.

The other thing we must do is to make sure something like this never happens again.

Wood County prides itself on having highly-successful athletic teams that win more than their share of state championships, but our facilities fall far short of those found in other West Virginia communities of similar size.

Just imagine how bad things would be if we didn’t have groups like the Parkersburg High Stadium Committee, the Erickson All-Sports Facility board of directors and the Williamstown Improvement Network, who help form private-public bonds with the school system.

Obviously, we need to take a look at how we fund and maintain our athletic facilities. Otherwise, we’ll just be waiting for the next crisis to arise. To keep performing crisis management rather than preventive maintenance makes little sense.

Although many are doing their best to make this a North-South issue, it isn’t.

Rather, this is a quality of life situation. If we don’t do everything we can to make our young people feel welcome here, we will continue to lose them to places who do.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com