Uneven playing field

Crawford Stadium field conditions becoming difficult to overlook

Worn+out+sidelines+and+patchy%2C+uneven+areas+of+dirt+between+the+lines+are+among+the+concerns+over+North+Penn+High+School%27s+football+playing+surface+inside+of+Crawford+Stadium.
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Uneven playing field

Worn out sidelines and patchy, uneven areas of dirt between the lines are among the concerns over North Penn High School's football playing surface inside of Crawford Stadium.

Worn out sidelines and patchy, uneven areas of dirt between the lines are among the concerns over North Penn High School's football playing surface inside of Crawford Stadium.

Anissa Gardizy

Worn out sidelines and patchy, uneven areas of dirt between the lines are among the concerns over North Penn High School's football playing surface inside of Crawford Stadium.

Anissa Gardizy

Anissa Gardizy

Worn out sidelines and patchy, uneven areas of dirt between the lines are among the concerns over North Penn High School's football playing surface inside of Crawford Stadium.

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TOWAMENCIN – Crawford Stadium is home of the North Penn Knights’ football team, a team that has earned the tag of one of the most successful programs in the state annually. However, it is not hard to notice that the field the Knights play on is far from the optimal playing surface. Nicknamed the “Swamp,” the field is a dilapidated plot of patchy grass, holes, gaps, and divots. While there have been attempts made in the past to strengthen the field surface, none of them have successfully fixed the muddy terrain.

The Knights have been noticing the deterioration of the field since the beginning of their season; after only their second home game, the field was already starting to tear up. Right now, the Knights are concerned about what will happen to the field if it rains before a game during postseason.

“I’m afraid that if we get a big rainstorm before a game, we will be running around in the mud. Our team has a lot of speed and it might have an adverse effect on what we like to do,” said head coach Dick Beck.

North Penn’s gridiron gang is known to use their speed and agility, but that asset that can easily be neutralized by a muddy field.

The mud not only slows players down on the field, but it slows them down on camera as well. When sending videos for possible recruitment, the field poses an issue for players every year.

“On film our guys look slower because we’re on mud compared to the guys on turf. Those kids look faster,” said Beck.

Besides just having an impact how the Knights play, the field could also have impact on where the Knights play. Especially during playoff season, if a rainstorm makes the field a literal “swamp,” North Penn might not be able to host home games. Since the field does not drain properly, water sits in the middle, creating a  playing surface of mud; something that can definitely impact the outcome of a game. The home game atmosphere at North Penn is a factor that the Knights surely want to have during playoffs, but the uncertainty of the weather can not ensure that luxury.

Sophomore football players at North Penn point out areas of the Crawford Stadium playing surface that have slipped into conditions detrimental to the student athletes who compete there.

Anissa Gardizy
Sophomore football players at North Penn point out areas of the Crawford Stadium playing surface that have slipped into conditions detrimental to the student athletes who compete there.

It is easy to look at the field and make the conclusion that it needs to be turfed. What is not easy, is arranging the best way for that to be done. Athletic Director Bill Bartle knows that the school could turf the field and be done with it- but that would not be the wisest idea. If the school were to install turf on the football field, it would need to be regulation size for all sports. When taking on a project like turfing a field, the school wants to make sure the new changes can benefit multiple programs such as soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse.

However, by extending the field, the track lanes would be impacted, which leads to another issue. If the school is redoing the field, should the track be widened to be a modern eight lanes instead of six?

“Turfing the field creates a domino effect on the whole stadium,” said Bartle.

If the track was widened, there would not be enough room between the track and the stands. The stands have little room on either side to be pushed back, so the idea of widening the track is not one that could be easily accomplished. There are solutions, like moving the track to a separate location, but overall the execution would not be easy.

Even if North Penn was to do a complete renovation of the stadium and facilities, the cost is a hefty one. A total stadium and facility renovation is estimated to cost  about 16 million dollars. On top of the costs, there would be new regulations that the stadium would have to comply with. Handicap parking, parking in general, bathrooms, and ramps are just a few of the regulations that would need to be in place.

“For the district to spend 16 million dollars on renovations when there are other needs is difficult at this point in time. The school board and administration know something needs to be done, but they also understand they need to take care of the ‘needs’ before the ’wants’, ” said Bartle.

Whether the new stadium is a need or a want is up to personal opinion, but the school district is aware of the concern. Until the stadium is undoubtedly a need in the district, no immediate actions are set to occur.

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