The Grand Ledge Athletic Department is already busy preparing a schedule as work continues to install a state of the art synthetic surface in the stadium. Transforming the football stadium into a multi-sport venue will provide instant benefit for the Comet athletic programs and the community.
Currently the high school boys and girls soccer teams play at Boughton Field. That facility lacks some of the basic needs that any high school athletic field should have; including team rooms, bathrooms, concession area, adequate parking and bleachers. Moreover, Boughton Field does not have lights, requiring the soccer teams to have early start times in order to complete the games before daylight ends.
“I’m very excited to see the soccer team move into the Community Stadium for their home games starting this fall for the boys,” said Steve Baker, Director of Athletics and Community Recreation for Grand Ledge Public Schools. “Our soccer community has done an amazing job building our boys and girls program into one of the best in Mid-Michigan. I’m excited for the kids and their parents to have the opportunity to play in a stadium atmosphere with all the amenities they deserve.”
The boys’ soccer team plays in the fall and the girls’ soccer team plays in the Spring. The addition of the soccer schedule to the stadium adds at least 32 more high school games to the facility with junior varsity and varsity contests.
“This gives our program the ability to play ‘showcase’ games,” GLHS Head Boys and Girls’ soccer coach Scott Dane said. “The lights will provide the opportunity to play games later in the day which gives us the opportunity to have a larger crowd. Additionally, appropriate bleachers, parking and restroom facilities will make for a better game day experience for our fans.”
Already the Capital Area Activities Conference has taken note of the new soccer home for Grand Ledge. The prestigious CAAC Gold and Silver Cup Championship games for the boys’ season are already scheduled for the stadium.
“The tremendous commitment from our football program has made our stadium the place to be on Friday night’s,” Baker said. “It is a tremendous atmosphere. The new surface will only add to that experience for fans and players, and we are looking forward to even more students and fans being able to enjoy one of the best high school athletic environments anywhere.”
Soccer will not be the only group that will have an opportunity to use the facility. The high school boys and girls lacrosse teams play in the Spring and will share the stadium during the months of March, April and May. Varsity and JV lacrosse games will add another 36 contests to the stadium slate. All told the athletic department plans to host at least 81 games in the facility during the 2017-18 school year.
“With the grass surface the stadium simply could not accommodate anything more than our freshman, JV and varsity football games,” said Dr. Brian Metcalf, GLPS Superintendent. “The improved facility will host eight times the number of games that we typically held in the past. This doesn’t even take into account the increased number of hours for practices, tournaments and community recreation events.”
Grand Ledge Community Recreation will keep the stadium very busy on the weekends with flag football and youth soccer. With the new safe and consistent surface Community Recreation will have the flexibility to offer even more opportunities for youth sports in the community. This past Spring recreation had 368 kids in the youth soccer program, and flag football totaled 177 kids last fall.
Teams will also have the opportunity to practice in the stadium when games are not being held. From the start of the fall season in August through mid-October the current schedule shows the facility being used 67 days in a 75-day period by football, marching band, soccer and recreation. For Comet coaches, the opportunity to be able to practice in the stadium will only help their teaching, and preparation of their teams.
“Now we can use lined fields to teach spacing, landmarks and other field tools everyday, where as now we can only do it once or twice before the season starts,” said Head Football Coach Matt Bird. “Being able to film practices and camps by utilizing the stadium at any point is a teaching tool worth the investment.”
Construction of the new synthetic surface has already started with a completion date of mid-August. Please visit www.glcommunitystadium.com if you wish to purchase a brick and donate to the project.