The fact remains, Ladue High School needs lights, and a turf field for its football complex.
Before you grab you telephone cord to strangle me, or decide to burn my house down with some vigilantes, hear me out.
There are health and safety factors that cannot be swept under an artificial rug. Its just too damn hot in August and September to attempt to play football in the day time sweltering heat. Players are wearing all kinds of heavy gear, and the weather is not conducive to good safety factors. Additionally, teachers, coaches and administrators are neither paid, nor expected to work a six or seven-day week.
A turf field means the complex can be used around the clock for gym class, field hockey games; soccer, flag football, you name it. Little maintenance is required.
With Friday night games, that leaves more time for the Ladue folks to be with their families and friends on weekends.
First, of all lets get rid of some of those urban myths
- The land for the high school was donated by the Horton Watkins Family, way back in the 1950s with the provision--no lights, and no Friday night football. It’s just that, an urban myth.
- Neighbors behind the football complex will lynch anyone who tries to spoil the tranquility of their neighborhood on Friday nights. Not so.
The growth of brush and trees is so heavy over 50 years, that if lights were on until around 10 p.m., hardly any of the neighbors would even notice.
The Rams brethren in the county all have lights: like the Parkways; the Rockwood Schools; Kirkwood, Webster, Mehlville, Oakville, Lindbergh, Maplewood, Affton, DeSmet, Chaminade and so on and so forth. Everyone in the neighborhood survives. Folks sit on their decks at Affton, and Clayton and Mehlville to take in some of the night-time action. High school football, everywhere is meant for Friday nights.
How to get it done
It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a cooperative effort between public schools and private enterprises to meet the 21st century financial needs of any local school district.
I am absolutely not suggesting use of tax payer money or stretched-thin District funds to expense this project.
Rather, try easing the naming rights restrictions and let corporations donate to a stadium fund. Think Dierberg Markets, StarBucks or Honda of Frontenac might at least listen to a sales pitch to have their name emblazoned on the field?
How many family dollars are already spent at Dierbergs by Ladue families, or how many students, staff and administration drop off cash daily at the local StarBucks?
Private dollars built the Velten-Maher Sports Facility
Notice that gorgeous brick structure with the gilded Ram at the north end of the football field? Steve Bahn, parent and businessman, and former coaches, the late Ed Velten and retired Jerry Maher raised $500,000 to make that happen. Folks who made generous donations got their names affixed to lockers and on a nice display board out front. No longer do players have to change in their cars, or on the parking lot.
It can happen again if the right leaders step up to lead the cause.
The Centenne Corp. recently rebuilt Gay Field for the Clayton Greyhounds. Now they have night football in a neighborhood, surrounded by Ladue and University City homes. Field usage is restricted to certain nights, and the lights are switched off by ten.
At Parkway Central Friday night, the hosts paraded a whole bunch of officials to center stadium to thank them for securing lights and that gorgeous new turf.
I asked coach Mark Goldenberg of the Colts if he liked playing on the new rug? What a loaded question.
Of course he did, then pointed to the stands full of fans who packed Colts stadium for the game against visiting Ladue. The Rams are having to give up home games (and Dads' Club revenue) to play under the lights and on the road on Fridays. Just two home games are scheduled this year.
The Ladue City Council does present a major roadblock. They've turned down similar requests for lights from both MICDS and John Burroughs. Maybe one of the present Ladue council members will be sympathetic to the cause?
So school-board members, go get yourself a consultant to get the project paid for. I’m sure Kirkwood’s Jim Velten or someone at Parkway would be more than willing to tell you how to execute a game plan.
It takes a village to raise a child. Ladue’s business community and parent partnership are just as skilled as others in raising funds for important projects.
When Ladue officials recently built the new all-weather track, they did a lot of below-the-surface work in anticipation of getting a new turf field and some lights someday. Most of the expensive out of sight spade work is done.
Need a kick off donation. Call me, (LHS Class of '62), I’ll kick in something to get it started.