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Home field for SC football still up in the air

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston kicks off its home football opener against neighboring rival St. Albans on Sept. 6. Where that game takes place, though, is still unsettled.

The Black Eagles were hoping to move their home games this year from Oakes Fields near downtown to the field behind the high school, but that might be getting more and more unlikely because the facility is "a work in progress,'' according to Principal Mike Arbogast.

"We've still got a lot of work to go to make it happen,'' Arbogast said. "A decision hasn't been made yet.

"I've said before that we're not going to come up here [for games] until we're ready. We've still got to get ticket booths, wiring for the concession stand, the restroom plumbing needs hooked up, the draining system's not finished and we're still clearing lines for the electric upgrade on the far-side stands.''

SC received bleachers for its campus field back in 2007, but has only held preseason scrimmages there up until now. The team planned to move all home games there for 2013 and, in fact, even had public address announcer Kelly Merritt mention that at every game at Oakes Field last year.

"We've reserved Oakes Field just in case,'' Arbogast said. "Several things still need to be done, and we don't want to bring people up and be half-completed. We want people to come up and say, 'This is a good move. It's awesome up here.'

"We want to make it as fan-friendly as possible, and as convenient for the community as we can.''

Arbogast admitted that SC will lose a number of seats by moving games to the high school, with Oakes' capacity listed at somewhere around 5,500 and the new field about 4,000. Extra bleachers can also be brought in, Arbogast said.

Parking has been another concern, but Arbogast said that besides the school lot, space can be utilized on the team's baseball and softball fields and perhaps a shuttle bus can be run from the nearby SC Community Center.

At least there should be a nice layer of grass at the school field by the time the season starts. A Bermuda Triangle surface is scheduled to be laid on Saturday and should be ready for play in six to eight weeks.

Arbogast said Donnie Mays, the team's first-year coach, has been instrumental in acquiring the grass and getting it installed.

"Donnie is trying to make the dream a reality,'' Arbogast said.

Mays, whose team embarks on its three-week summer practice period beginning Monday, said the field, and not his workout schedule, has taken up much of his time in recent weeks.

"I'm more worried about the germination period of Bermuda grass than football,'' Mays said, "and if it takes or not.''

Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.

 


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