Committee to explore relocating Henry Sibley stadium

Advocates want West St. Paul field moved to Mendota Heights

Following the community’s rallying, the West St. Paul-Mendota-Heights-Eagan Area School Board recently formed a committee to explore the feasibility of relocating the Henry Sibley football stadium to the high school campus.

The Stadium Advisory Committee, a group of parents, community members, administrators and school board members, is tasked with seeing what it would be like to bring football games closer to home, so to speak. Relocation advocates want to move the football stadium, Charles Matson Field, from the spot south of Butler Avenue West across the street from Heritage Middle School in West St. Paul to Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights, a couple of miles away.

A task force discussed the idea in the fall of 2013. The task force decided to put the discussion on hold to allow the school board more time to study it and consult the community.

Community members in support of relocating the stadium contacted the school board in January, encouraging the district to put the project on the May referendum to garner bond funding. In February, the school board decided to postpone the discussion until after the referendum. 

“The school board felt more time was needed before such a question could be put to voters,” said Superintendent Nancy Allen-Mastro in a recent blog post. “(Now) we want to give this request serious consideration as we promised we would.”

An online petition, called “Relocate athletic stadium to Henry Sibley’s campus” at www.change.org, has been gaining traction, garnering 429 supporters, as of June 26.

“Attaching the Henry Sibley athletic field to the high school will consolidate most of the athletic and academic portions of our students lives into one place,” the petition says. “Giving our students a facility to take pride in and enjoy will go a long way towards binding them to the wonderful area we call home.”

Supporters who commented on the petition said relocating the field would strengthen the tether between the school and its school spirit.

“As a former student of Sibley, the Friday nights under the lights of Matson Field will always be fond memories, but every away game that I attended, I couldn’t help but think about how great it would be if (like other high schools in the area) we could cheer on our team with Sibley in the background,” one supporter wrote.

Another advocate wrote: “Not only would a new stadium on school grounds attract future warrior athletes, but it will build a sense of pride and unity within the community, ultimately leading to additional support from alumni.”

As supporters have made their mark online, so have concerned citizens. Many are wondering how moving the stadium would be financed (advocates are kicking around the idea of a bonding bill and collaborations between the cities in the school district). Some are concerned about the traffic the stadium would attract.

Others said the relocation would be frivolous.

“There is nothing wrong with the football field,” one commenter wrote in response to a link to the petition. “There is no reason we should have to move it or build a new one.”

Since the referendum to increase technology and facilities funding failed in a special election May 6, the school board has been discussing how to proceed. As of June 17, no final decisions have been made.

Information on the Stadium Advisory Committee is available at www.isd197.org/schoolboard/initiatives/stadium.

The committee plans to present its findings to the school board in late July, according to a recent announcement.

— Kaitlyn Roby

 

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