LISD Stadiums Provide Students with Level Playing Fields

LISD Stadiums Provide Students with Level Playing Fields
Posted on 10/13/2016

During my first few weeks on the job, one question that has been posed to me a number of times is regarding the district's stadiums.

As I remarked in my column several weeks ago, Leander ISD is home to impressive facilities, and the district stadiums are no exception.

It is important to understand that LISD has two different types of stadiums, regional stadiums and sub-varsity stadiums. The regional stadiums are the A.C. Bible, Jr. – Memorial Stadium, located on the Leander High School campus, the John Gupton Stadium, across the street from Vista Ridge High School, and the Ed W. Monroe Memorial Stadium, situated on the Vandegrift High School campus. All varsity football games are hosted at regional stadiums, and because they serve the district as a whole, these stadiums have “LISD” painted in the end zones.

LISD is not alone in our decision to build fewer, larger regional stadiums instead of smaller campus stadiums at each high school. Large districts often build regional stadiums because it is more cost-effective and is often considered a better option for the district and community.

In addition to the three regional stadiums, the majority of LISD's high school campuses have sub-varsity fields on their campus sites, too, the exceptions being Leander HS and Vandegrift HS. These two high schools do not have sub-varsity fields because students have access to the regional fields that are on the schools' properties. The sub-varsity stadiums have the school's initials painted in the end zones.

LISD's stadiums allow students involved in a range of activities, including football, cheerleading, soccer, band, dance, track and field activities, a place to perform and excel. Through the combined use of the regional and sub-varsity fields, the district is able to accommodate varsity, junior varsity and freshmen activities. As district facilities, they ensure that students across the district compete — quite literally — on equal playing fields that are well-maintained. The locations of the regional stadiums also reduce travel time for students and spectators between our high schools and stadiums.

Other groups outside of the district use our stadiums too. Numerous clubs and organizations pay to rent our stadiums and facilities for their purposes. The demand for our fields is so high that we do not have the capacity to fulfill every rental request.

Seating at our stadiums vary. Our sub-varsity stadiums generally seat between 1,200 and 1,500 spectators. Bible and Gupton stadiums each seat 10,200. Monroe Stadium was built with 5,000 seats, but master planned to go to 7,000 due to the space available at the site. (Stadium facilities require a certain number of parking spaces which are considered impervious cover. The City of Austin limits the amount of impervious cover per site. When Monroe Stadium was originally built the impervious cover was complete.) In 2008, the economy slowed, and so did LISD's growth, resulting in Monroe Stadium not being expanded during that time.

I have also been asked why certain fields have artificial turf and others do not. Our fields sustain a lot of use during the course of the school year. In order to ensure our grass fields are ready for our students, we let them “rest” during certain times of the year and do not rent them to outside groups. The recent droughts Central Texas has endured have made it both difficult and expensive to adequately water our grass fields, due to the intense heat and regional watering restrictions. During droughts, summer watering is limited, yet district fields require a consistent watering schedule to allow the grass fields to recover from the use the fields sustain during the school year. With these considerations in mind, the district decided to install two artificial turf practice fields at Glenn High School as a more responsible solution to grass. At this time, it is not cost-effective to place artificial turf on all of our existing fields because it would cost some $500,000 per site to install.

The needs of our district are on the forefront of the minds of the Board of Trustees and district administration. Future construction projects we must consider include adding 2,000 more seats at Monroe Stadium, which at today's costs are estimated to be about $1 million (depending on labor and materials), and adding artificial turf to our existing fields.

LISD's stadiums reflect how our Boards of Trustees balance the needs of our growing student population with their commitment to being wise stewards of taxpayer dollars.