Fans pan stadium

As hundreds of Oak Harbor Wildcat football fans surrounded the field at Memorial Stadium during a recent game, some visiting fans expressed surprise to see the condition of the field that an undefeated football team plays on.

“For the reputation Oak Harbor has, they should have a way better stadium,” said Monroe resident Brenda Lape. She made the trek from Monroe Sept. 23 only to watch the Wildcats beat the Monroe Bearcats 35-20.

Bearcat fans weren’t prepared for the condition of the stadium, which was built in 1947. The stadium, with its rolling play field, fence located right behind one end zone and temporary rented bleachers, isn’t even suitable for post-season play. Oak Harbor school officials are trying to change that by running a bond election Nov. 8 that would fund construction of the new stadium.

Some of the Monroe residents were surprised Memorial Stadium bleachers don’t have a covering to protect spectators from the elements.

“It’s a very cold stadium,” said Monroe fan Mary Coryell.

Other visitors noted the cheerleaders didn’t have room to cheer and the fans’ view was obstructed by the players. Another was surprised to see both teams sharing the same side of the football field due to lack of room on the visitors’ side.

Monroe fans weren’t the only ones sharing the visitors’ bleachers. Several families from Oak Harbor wandered over to the visitor’s side to try and find a comfortable spot to enjoy the game.

Many didn’t even bother to find a seat. They just stood behind a fence to watch the game. Even though they were standing, they enjoyed an unobstructed view of the competition.

Some Oak Harbor fans tried to put the best face on the stadium.

“The hot dogs are good,” said Oak Harbor resident Jack Lindsley. He noted the bleachers were pretty crowded.

Another fan said he did like the small-town atmosphere the current stadium provides.

“It seems really cozy,” Oak Harbor resident Ryan Dorow said.

But many more spectators were disappointed at the sorry state of Memorial Stadium.

“It’s unfortunate that the community hasn’t gotten together to support the stadium,” said Dawn Shumate, who, along with her husband, Curtis, graduated in 1984.

She said Memorial Stadium has needed help for years. She said the lack of communication between the school district and the community was a major factor in why the facility wasn’t upgraded.

Curtis questioned why the school district is remodeling the track at North Whidbey Middle School while the stadium is in such shabby condition. He has seen the decline of Memorial Stadium over the years. He said the school district’s ineffective communication and inability to listen to the community are factors in why the stadium didn’t receive upgrades. Several past bond elections have failed.

In addition to the rolling field, Memorial Stadium, which is located next to the bus barn, has several dead patches throughout the field.

As for the restrooms, it appears to be a subject nobody wants to talk about.

“I don’t go to the restrooms,” said Tammy Carlson.

Those sentiments were echoed by others watching the game.

“I try not to use them,” said Martin Martinez. He is a coach for the Oak Harbor youth football team. He pointed out that every youth team in the league has a better field to play on than the high school teams.

The Oak Harbor School District is running a bond election Nov. 8 to fund construction of new athletic facilities at the high school. The $6.5 million bond would pay for a 2,500-seat stadium with a field covered by an artificial surface, a new track and renovations to the tennis courts and fields surrounding Oak Harbor High School.

Some attending the late-September game said the new field would help foster more school spirit, as the football and soccer teams would then have a facility comparable to other schools in the Wesco conference.

“We travel to other schools and they all seem to have nice updated facilities,” Carlson said.

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