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Condition of FWCS football field questioned

Heavy rains over the last few days revealing problems on the football field for two hometown high schools. 

There are voices speaking up, questioning whether the situation puts football players’ safety at risk.

It was raining hard late Tuesday morning at Northrop High School.

A junior varsity game scheduled at Northrop’s Spuller Stadium Monday night had to be moved to Homestead High School, because of the poor condition of the field.

Last Friday, Snider High School, which shares the field with Northrop, squared off against North Side in a rainstorm, and afterward it was not in good shape.

"You see standing water that will sometimes build up in the middle of the field and it tears up whatever playing surface they’ve got," said Brett Rump, who is the radio play by play announcer for Friday night games in town.

He says for years the locker rooms and press box fell further into disrepair and that late season playoff games have routinely been shifted to other fields in town, because of problems at Spuller Stadium.

He says in some cases, after bad weather, player safety is an issue.

"It gets wet, you try to play on it, you get the divots, the foot marks, and so it makes it a dangerous surface to play on," Rump said.

East Allen County Schools this year invested money to put artificial turf on all four of its high school football fields.

Not long ago, Fort Wayne Community Schools engineered a successful referendum, capturing millions in taxpayer dollars to upgrade facilities district wide.

Improvements to athletic fields did not get much attention.

Russ Isaacs, the former long-time coach at Snider, a powerhouse in football, has no beef with that mindset.

"Do we like a muddy field, no, absolutely. But any coach or athletic director in his right mind would never say we should put in field turf instead of putting air conditioning in an elementary school, come on, I mean, that’s just not realistic," Isaacs said.

FWCS officials say in seeking community input in the referendum, putting in turf for football is not something taxpayers identified as a top priority.

School officials say the district wants to update athletic facilities, but that turf is expensive, especially knowing FWCS has not one, but four stadiums to manage.
 

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