Posted: 7:32 am Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
By Jason Lieser
The light poles and goal posts are already vertical, and Pahokee’s new football stadium is on track to open in time for the 2009 season.
Principal Ariel Alejo said field should be ready by the end of June, pending any unforeseen delays.
“The locker room facilities are going to be really nice,” Alejo said. “The practice field is going to be nice. The track has been upgraded, that’s a $45,000 upgrade for new material. It’s going to be great for our kids.”
He also said the school will replace its antiquated scoreboard from Lair Field with a brand new, upgraded version at the new stadium.
The stadium is expected to seat close to 5,000 fans, which is what Alejo said the school drew for last year’s Muck Bowl. That game, played on a Saturday afternoon, required several portable bleachers and standing-room only sections.
One unanswered question is the name of the stadium. Alejo said that issue will be discussed at next week’s Student Advisory Council meeting.
“Possibilities are endless,” he said. “There are some individuals that are interested in naming it.”
One potential solution would be using a dual name. Many colleges name the actual field one thing and the surrounding stadium another. I believe there is a university in Gainesville doing exactly that. It’s possible to name the locker rooms and press box something else, as well.
Two things along those lines that interest me: Will the stadium have any aspect dedicated to the memory of former player Norman Griffith and will the school name any part of the new facility after long-time coach Don Thompson?
The quick progress on Pahokee’s field stands in stark contrast to the situation at Palm Beach Gardens, where the football team will once again play most (if not all) of its home games at neighbor Dwyer. In fairness, Pahokee has a little more flexibility with the surrounding property. The new stadium is being built across the street from the current location.
One problem for Pahokee is the construction on its current campus has cramped the football team’s practice facilities. The Blue Devils are working with an Arena League-sized practice field and there is not nearly enough room to run a complete practice without risking injury.
The Blue Devils, winners of five state championships in the past six years, will christen their new field Sept. 4 against Atlantic. The Eagles finished No. 4 in the Post Top 10 last season.
The actual school building on the new grounds, if anyone reading this cares, is coming along nicely as well and is on schedule.