What is happening at Memorial Field?
With Memorial Field in downtown State College undergoing renovations throughout the 2019-20 academic year, State High needed to find ways to spruce up its temporary replacement stadium on campus — and those plans recently came into better focus.
After Borough Council’s May 13 approval of a text amendment to allow 70-foot-high lights at the 650 Westerly Parkway location, the school district has begun shaping plans to host Friday night football, as well as lacrosse and soccer, games at the South Track this fall.
Athletic director Chris Weakland said plans have been made to ensure concessions are available for fans while temporary bleachers and port-a-potties will also be put in place to accommodate larger crowds.
But the most notable change might just be the lights, which will allow sports teams to continue playing after the sun goes down.
“(Seventy-feet lights) are a standard of sports play so that when the balls go elevated in the air they don’t go above the lights and then players would lose that,” Weakland said. “So we want to make sure we could use it for any sports we need there.”
The change to the lights proved to be slightly controversial as some nearby residents were concerned the extra light would be a nuisance. But Weakland tried to assure fans that taller lights would actually be less of a problem than the 40-foot lights that were previously allowed.
“The higher the light, the less light spillage,” he added. “Also, that way the lights will be more directed toward the field and not across the field. If the lights were directed across the field, you would have more light spillage in the neighborhood.”
Added SCASD communications director Chris Rosenblum: “What we’re trying to do now is work out an equitable agreement with the borough that allows us to use (the field), but not past certain hours so it’s not a burden to the neighbors. The details of that are being worked out.”
The changes, even if they are just for a year, will take some getting used to for fans and players alike. But State College officials believe any short-term challenges are outweighed by the long-term gains.
Count head football coach Matt Lintal and his players among the supporters.
“Just to hear some of our seniors say, ‘Hey we understand that by sacrificing some of our senior season to be at (the) South Track, that’s the best thing for the program long term,’ — for a high school kid to look beyond themselves, I think we’re doing something right,” Lintal said. “We’ve got a great group of kids and a tremendous senior class.”
There are a few added positives associated with playing at the South Track, too. Lintal said having locker rooms near the field offers a lot more convenience. Previously, the Little Lions had to use the locker room on campus and then take a bus to Memorial Field, for example.
But, officials reiterated, the South Track should be home to the football team for just one season. Both Weakland and Rosenblum said the renovations are on schedule and should be completed before the start of fall 2020.