A stadium is an investment

A stadium is an investment

Anyone who thinks that having a home stadium is an extravagance hasn’t spent an hour in a cramped school bus traveling to an away football game. Especially on a cold and rainy night, when the only thing that makes the ride home bearable is a win.

Still, away games are part of the deal: Central Tech plays at Sunny Shores Academy this year; next year, it is the other way around.

Unless your football team represents the Youngstown City School district; then just about every game is an away game and even the few home games that get worked into the schedule are played on neutral territory.

A school district that once boasted two excellent facilities — Rayen and South — that over the years played host not only to the City Series, but to Youngstown University and YSU teams, now has no home field.

While all around the city, suburban districts have upgraded their facilities and in many cases installed artificial turf, Youngstown’s football players — and perhaps, someday, girls and boys soccer teams — have no place to call home.

Rectifying this is not going to be easy or cheap. But it is fundamentally wrong to relegate Youngstown’s athletes to second-class status.

Athletics are only a part of the overall scheme of educating children, but for some it is over arching. Participation encourages students to stay in school and to maintain their grades. For countless young people, their coach becomes the most important person in their academic lives. We may wish it were an English teacher or a music teacher, but the reality is that no one can reach down into a kid and pull out the best in him than a good coach.

For that reason — among others — we hope that the initiative announced last week by Youngstown Superintendent Connie Hathorn — himself a high school and college athlete — is successful.

The district has $1 million in construction funds needed to get the ball rolling, but to develop a facility worthy of the Rayen name and the students who play there will be a challenge.

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