The Blair Community Schools Board of Education has been exploring options for a new soccer field for the past couple of months.
However, the issue of facilities for Blair High School soccer has been on the table for years. In 2016, a new competition soccer field and upgrades to the practice soccer fields were included in a bond issue. Those were later cut after the bond issue failed.
Despite having subpar practice facilities and having to share Krantz Field with the track teams, Blair girls and boys soccers have seen success, qualifying for district finals and state tournaments. The girls team last won state in 2000, while the boys won in 1999.
Now, the district has the funds to be able to make the necessary improvements. But what option should they do?
In May, the board discussed pursuing bids for a new turf soccer field to be installed on the current football practice field. Other potential sites have included the football field on the former Dana College campus, Krantz Field and the Blair Youth Sports Complex.
Then, this month, Supt. Randy Gilson brought Krantz Field back into play after cost estimates for a standalone field came in at $1.6 million. The cost to install turf at Krantz Field would be less than $1 million and benefit both soccer and football.
“It makes most sense to go forward at Krantz because of the lights, the new concessions and the scoreboards there and bleachers. The consistency of play throughout the year,” Gilson told the board.
The district should move forward with turfing Krantz Field. It's the best option for the players, the fans and it's the most fiscally responsible decision.
But in addition to the Krantz Field, the district must improve the soccer practice facilities. These have been inadequate and unsafe for far too long. It's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.
Scheduling for the facility, which would include both boys and girls soccer, high school and junior high track, would still be an issue, but one that could easily be resolved, especially if the district could obtain use of the track on the former Dana College campus.
Board members addressed another issue with this project, which was equity among the sports. This is a must. There is no one sport that is better than the other. All teams should have equal opportunity to practice and play on the field.