It may be two years. It may be five years. Heck, it may even be a bit longer than that. Sometime in the very near future, the Field Turf artificial surface at Wayne Jamison Field is going to need to be replaced.
This is not news. It’s not something that the folks back in the early 2000s when the planning for the field that lasted several years got underway overlooked. Those good-hearted and well-intentioned individuals knew the day would arrive when additional planning to replace the new surface would need to begin. It’s not even something the current administration has overlooked and failed to acknowledge that some sort of planning would need to take place. Far from it.
The planning has already begun. In fact, the fundraising has begun with the new reserved seating and perhaps the ability to raise funds through the new scoreboard.
In order to help facilitate the possibility of expanding the lifespan of the existing surface while funds from those sources and perhaps others are put into reserve, the very real possibility that the almost continual open access of the facility will be curtailed. That’s not being hard core, that’s being realistic and responsible.
Apparently, that’s got some folks that aren’t part of the Bridgeport High School and Middle School sanctioned sports programs a bit disgruntled. I’ve already heard it’s unfair. I’ve heard that if the school limits use of the field that, ultimately, the kids will be hurt. Some in the media are offering Karl Marx-like theories as to why all of this is bad. Hell, I’ve heard from one Harvard Law School grad that it’s illegal.
Since you wouldn’t ever hear a member of the BHS or BMS administration say anything negative regarding those concerns, allow me to speak my politically incorrect view on the situation: Too bad.
Bridgeport High School has one major priority when it comes to the use of Wayne Jamison Field. That priority is the high school sports program; most notably football and soccer. After that, it’s the BMS Braves. Beyond that, it’s a privilege to use the field. It’s a privilege because residents and businesses – almost exclusively from Bridgeport – provided more than $500,000 to make the field available in the first place.
If anyone wants to criticize the Bridgeport High School administration for the field’s usage, it’s for being too kind with it. They left a crack in the door, and now it’s wide open. And the fact they’re trying to push it shut a bit has some folks up in arms.
Even worse, you have some people – even in the media – proclaiming that it was a bad idea to do this project in the first place. Not only because the turf would eventually need to replaced, but because since everyone in Harrison County doesn’t have an artificial surface that it’s perhaps unfair.
This isn’t just shortsighted, narrow-minded and outdated thinking; it’s a Socialist world view. It goes back to the “let’s give everyone a trophy” mentality of not offending a soul. How’s that view been working for everyone in the last few decades by the way?
Of course, when the turf was being installed years ago at least one media outlet said the money should go toward textbooks – and I’m speaking from memory here – to some place like Mingo County. Yes sir. That’s correct. The statement was so outlandish and so foolish that when the committee saw the argument in print that – after they laughed at it –they decided then and there that there was nothing that was going to stop them from raising the funds needed to replace an outdated field with a new facility. Instead of creating an explosion of opposition, all the media outlet did was fuel the committee’s fire. For that, those folks are most certainly thankful.
Now, you have a first-class facility that has more than just served the Bridgeport community well. Since its arrival, there have likely been more than 1,000 official events from practice to games on it. There have probably been hundreds of more individuals and groups that have utilized the field without having a contract to use the field, occasionally leaving gum and sunflower seeds buried in the turf for BHS officials to deal with.
Think about that number for a second? Had the field not been done several years ago, hundreds of groups would have been denied a playing surface. That’s not speculation. That’s fact. Now, the field is there for school use and, unlike a whole lot of other places statewide, it’s there for outsiders to use as well.
All that is required is proof of insurance, the ability to pay for a custodian and – although not 100 percent certain – roughly $15 an hour to the county. For that $15, the user gets the field, the press box, the bleachers, the scoreboard, the restrooms, the concession stand and the parking.
Not a bad deal. And if you think it’s bad, head up to Wood County and attempt to get on the field at Parkersburg High School. Better yet, try and walk on the all-weather track. Let me know what you find out. What you should find out is that Bridgeport High School has provided more access than any other high school has to their field than probably any other school in West Virginia.
So if you want to complain about how unfairly you’re being treated, don’t bring it to my doorstep. You’ll find no sympathy here. Bridgeport High School and Bridgeport Middle School will be just fine. After that, groups that are exclusively from Bridgeport will also likely get their time on the field; well ahead of groups that are from the outside and have a mix of individuals. Beyond that, I have 100 percent faith in the BHS administration to do what’s in the best interest of their students and the community.
Besides, it’s only going to be for a few years. If you don’t like it, step up to the plate with your group and raise some coin. Of course, you always have the option to provide those dollars for textbooks in Mingo County.