Edison stadium a dim-bulb idea

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The recall campaign is over but yard signs are still sprouting up around midtown Tulsa. The campaign is not aimed at the general electorate, but at the board of Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) and the committee putting together the next school bond issue, slated for the November ballot.

A group of parents of Edison High School students are pushing for the inclusion in that bond issue of a $1.3 million "lightweight" football stadium for the Edison campus. Currently, Edison uses LaFortune Stadium on the Memorial High School campus as its home field. Memorial, Washington, East Central, Webster, and TSSC (formerly McLain) each have a football stadium on campus, and all but TSSC share the field with one other high school. In the past, TPS also used Skelly Stadium as a home field, and played home games on both Thursday and Friday nights. (Perhaps they still do, but I couldn't find a schedule from last fall to verify that.)

Proponents of a stadium for Edison have put together a detail-rich website, advertised on the yard signs. (I commend them for making the signs' type big enough to read while passing at 35 MPH.) They argue that the stadium can be funded without raising taxes by reallocating funds targeted for upgrading existing stadiums.

As impressed as I am by the website (which focuses on detail rather than flash), I am unmoved by their arguments. This is a telling passage:

An interesting fact is that TPS and the bond development committee have not once argued that this stadium is unnecessary because it would not benefit the students. They must clearly understand the benefits, but choose not to act on behalf of Edison students by funding this project. Instead they continue to channel much needed funding away from schools in need, toward schools which already have established championship athletic programs.

Notice that they contrast "need" with "already have established championship athletic programs." I have a hard time seeing the creation of a championship athletic program as a need.

Another page presents Google satellite images of the existing high school sports complexes. The writer observes that other sports facilities at schools with football stadiums are of higher quality and better maintained than equivalent facilities at the "have not" schools and implies that the presence of a football stadium would improve the general athletic situation at Edison.

I'm not inclined to put any of the upcoming bond issue towards athletics. Repairing or renovating academic facilities ought to be the highest priority. My mother was a kindergarten teacher at Catoosa Elementary School for 28 years, and I can remember her frustration when the school board put a lighted baseball field and a new high school gym ahead of fixing the roof and installing air conditioning for the WPA-era elementary school.

If you're going to spend bond money on athletics, it would make more sense to fund modernization and improvements to existing stadiums rather than build another facility that will require maintenance and, eventually, modernization and improvements.

The bond development committee should keep this in mind as it considers including an Edison stadium in the bond package: Tulsa's taxpayers sent a strong signal last December, when they rejected the library bond issue, that they aren't interested in paying for "wants" right now. If a stadium is included, it could cause the defeat of that part of the package. The bond issue will be split into several different ballot items, and the committee should be careful to separate academic projects from athletic projects, and perhaps put an Edison stadium on its own ballot item.

And before someone complains that East Central got a stadium in the last bond package, it should be remembered that the residents of the old East Central school district were promised a stadium decades ago (1960s?) when the district was annexed into the Tulsa district.

Even if the stadium is included in the bond package, building a stadium on the proposed site may require a zoning change, a special exception, or a variance to permit the stadium and to meet parking requirements, and there's no guarantee that the school district will get the necessary approvals.


Shadow6 said:

Quick and dirty analysis of won/loss records of the haves (Memorial, BTW, Webster, and East Central) and the Have Nots (Edison, Central, Rogers, and Hale) from Oklahoma High School Sports InfoNet , okhss.com:

98-99: HAVES 23-22, HAVE NOTS 10-31
99-00: HAVES 20-12, HAVE NOTS 6-34
00-01: HAVES 24-20, HAVE NOTS 11-29
01-02: HAVES 14-26, HAVE NOTS 11-26
02-03: HAVES 29-17, HAVE NOTS 8-32
03-04: HAVES 28-17, HAVE NOTS 7-34
04-05: HAVES 24-23, HAVE NOTS 8-33
TOTALS: HAVES 162-137, HAVE NOTS 50-219

Sorry, Michael, you are wrong on this one. Edison, and every high school in Tulsa, for that matter, deserve a real home field. If we care that the Have Nots have a chance at success, they need to be able to attract good coaches and athletes and keep them. Schools with stadiums have an advantage over those that do not.
It is frustrating to go to a "home" game see your team pummeled on a regular basis. A home field advantage would help. This also impacts the band, drill teams, and others that perform at football games. It impacts the student body. Why buy a house in a Have Not district if your kid has any talent in footbal, band, or cheerleading?

Thanks for the link to the high school sports website. Nice to know something like that exists.

You left out TSST (McLain) from the list of Haves, which makes the Haves' numbers not quite as impressive:

98-99: HAVES 26-29, HAVE NOTS 10-31
99-00: HAVES 25-16, HAVE NOTS 6-34
00-01: HAVES 27-27, HAVE NOTS 11-29
01-02: HAVES 15-34, HAVE NOTS 11-26
02-03: HAVES 30-26, HAVE NOTS 8-32
03-04: HAVES 34-22, HAVE NOTS 7-34
04-05: HAVES 27-30, HAVE NOTS 8-33
TOTALS: HAVES 184-184, HAVE NOTS 50-219

It's hard for me to understand the "home field advantage" argument. If Memorial and Edison share LaFortune Stadium, it's the home field for both of them. It's not as if Edison fans have to drive to another city for a home game, nor is it as if they'd be walking to the stadium if it were on the Edison campus. LaFortune Stadium is only three miles from the Edison campus, and the fans would be driving to the game even if it were at the Edison campus. Maybe the school system needs to do a better job of treating the shared stadiums as shared facilities, rather than belonging primarily to the nearest school.

Extracurriculars matter, but as long as you have a place to play, that's what matters most. Having a successful team doesn't matter. For a handful of students, their participation in extracurriculars will lead to a career; the rest benefit by learning teamwork, self-discipline, and good sportsmanship. You learn those lessons even on a losing team.

Shadow6 said:

I left out TSST because they do not share a stadium. Even if you factor them in, the Halves win at a 50% clip, and the Have Nots win only 18% of their games. During that seven year period, TSST had two winning seasons. Of the four schools that share stadiums, Hale had two winning seasons, Central had three, and Edison one. On a year by year comparison of owners and tenants, Edison never won more games than Memorial, Central never won more games than BTW, Hale never won more games than East Central, and Rogers never won more games than Webster.

I'm amazed that you think having a succesful team does not matter. If success is not important, why keep score?

The talented kids will vote with their feet and go find a team that has a chance to win, in a decent stadium. Freddie Carolina comes to mind. This will put the teams no stadium at a permanent disadvantage.

Edison band kids have to get to the school at 5:30 or earlier for their "home" games to load up the trucks. The loading is the same amount of work for home and away games. After the game, they have to go back and it takes another hour or so to unload. After the game, Memorial band kids are eating pizza, and Edison kids are unloading the truck and wondering if they can get something to eat before curfew.

The football team has to load up the equipment on trucks and busses for home games, and that is also extra work.

Edison kids returned home from two "home" games to find several of their cars vandalized, windows bashed, and items of valus, including stereos, stolen.

After this year, my kids will be graduated from TPS, so I won't have a dog in this fight. But I've seen things from the BTW perspective as a student and parent, and the Edison perspective as a parent, and BTW as a stadium owner has a much sweeter deal.

Thanks for your reply, and I'm glad I was able to enlighten you to the high school stats.

Good points about the challenge of transporting equipment for the team and the band and about vandalism of cars left at the home campus. I've got to think, though, that there's a way for the district to deal with such issues short of building a stadium on every campus.

If you're a coach or a player, you ought to be about playing to win, but for the district and school administration, having successful teams at every school isn't central to the mission of the school system. If money were unlimited, then we could give every school a stadium. Since money is limited, it becomes a matter of priorities, and academics should always have priority over athletics.

Shadow6 said:

This is my last comment on this issue here. If I have anything more to say to you, I'll sent it to your "blog" e-mail addy. I don't want to wear out my welcome. But your blog has allowed me to focus my frustration, so thanks for the opportunity. I'll do more speaking with TPS or the Edison parents group.

I've come to the sad conclusion that this mater is now a political issue, and must be handled as one to get any action. If the Edison parents are going to get anything done, they are going to have to reach out to the Rogers, Hale, and Central communities and make alliances, and come to understandings.

I don't think TPS has any intention of doing anything to solve these problems short of the absolute minimum needed to pass the bond issue, and then hope the Edison parents, and their stadium, will go away. They have known, or should have known, about the funding, extra work, and won/loss inequities for years, and have chosen to be content with the status quo. Dr. Sawyer claims they will fix the funding issues, but I am in "wait and see" mode on that promise. I think that TPS only took this limited action when they realized that a quite capable group of Edison parents were energized.

Once the Edison parents get even louder about this issue, do you think realtors will keep quiet about it? Will homebuyers with high school or middle school age kids want to buy homes in the Edison, Central, Rogers or Hale districts if they have a kid who may be involved in the band, football team, cheer, drill team, pom, or dance group? At Edison, they have maybe 80 kids on the team(players, equipment, water, and stats people), perhaps 100 in the band, 15 cheerleaders, 10 pom, 15 dancers, and 5 JROTC involved in the game for a total of 225 kids, or almost 23% of the student body involved. If those parents decided it was too hard to stay at their home school and went elsewhere, that would be a massive loss.

When my kid was a freshman or sophomore, he certainly could not walk from 33rd and Harvard to LaFortune, but I would have been OK with him walking with some friends to the Edison campus.

Michael, you live in Mayo Meadow. I used to live there. I don't know if your kids go to TPS, but if they do, you are in a Lanier/Wilson/Rogers track. When your children get to Rogers, you will have to make decisions about football games. I guarantee it will be a much easier trip for an inexperienced driver to travel down familiar territory from Mayo Meadow to Yale to 4th to Pitsburg than it would be to get from Mayo Meadow across the river to Webster. The first time you are sitting at home on a Friday night and your child has gone out into the dark, evil world to Webster for a football game, think of this thread.

Shadow6 said:

"On a year by year comparison of owners and tenants, Edison never won more games than Memorial, Central never won more games than BTW, Hale never won more games than East Central, and Rogers never won more games than Webster."

CORRECTION. How could I forget this wonderful year? Edison finally won more games than Memorial this year. That is still 6-1 in favor of Memorial. My apologies.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 19, 2005 7:16 PM.

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