Sports – Houseman Field renovations under way
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) – A groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning at Grand Rapids’ historic Houseman Field marked the end of one era and the beginning of another.

“There are a lot of memories for people here and I think it is important to have that continuity, that history, that bringing things full circle. That’s very, very important,” said Dr. Bernard Taylor.

Houseman Field is getting a major overhaul this summer as the school district invests $5.8 million in renovations. Taylor says the the 80 year old field was in desperate need of repair because of serious safety issues.

“The playing surface was dangerous. The turf was literally being stitched together after every game. There were drainage problems and obviously safety was of paramount importance,” he said.

Student athletes from 4 different high schools along with Grand Rapids Community College and Aquinas College use the field for football and track events. Taylor says the district was able to afford the renovations as a result of a savings left over from a 2004 bond proposal.

“The cost of this project came out of the original bond issue of $164 million which was supposed to pay for nine projects. So those 9 projects extended to a 10th school and this athletic facility. So that’s excellent financial management,” he said.

Upon completion, Houseman will have new artificial turf on the playing field, new locker rooms, concession stand press box, scoreboard, lighting and designated entries for home and visiting teams.

Kurt Johnson, Director of Athletics, say it will be a first class facility and spectacular addition to the district and community.

“You know we are looking to host major events here. We’ve made sure that some of the specifications will meet certain standards, Division 1 college standards, that if by chance we want to participate in some of those events, national or international events we will have the standards that will accommodate those type of events,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who says he ran track for Ottawa Hills High School many years ago, said the renovating the field will allow the district to provide students with a field they deserve while maintaining the rich tradition that’s existed for years at Houseman Field.

“So every time a student performs on that field that will be a part of history. We want the facility to really support what it is that students should be able to do,” he said.

Taylor agreed says it’s possible due to 5 years of hard work on behalf of the district and community members.

“Look what the district has done, created a state of the art facility that our students deserve and are worthy of, did it at no expense to the tax payer, and did it in concert with the neighborhood. Now that is what a school district is supposed to do. That’s what we do well and today is a celebration of that,” said Taylor. “It’s spectacular. It’s great.”

District leaders say they have a very tight schedule but fully intend on having the field operational for the football first game on August 27th.

Categories: Track and Cross News

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