Stadium lights will give both students and the community a brighter future

Opinion

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Why I am in favor of lights at the stadium:

I think this single change will allow for all of the following: Improve the quality of life for the villages, OPRF and Fenwick High Schools, the students who play competitive sports at the High Schools, the children who dream of playing when they reach high school, the time-challenged parents of the above, the local business community and all those in favor of creating a shared, diversified community experience.

It would make more effective use of our available, limited field space, by allowing not only the OPRF football teams to schedule games not subject to weekend daylight hours, (always at a premium in fall, winter and spring) but also soccer, field hockey, lacrosse and other field sports. It would allow those students who compete in concurrent sports, such as cross-country, soccer, field hockey, tennis, ice hockey, etc., to support their playing, marching, or cheering classmates. During the winter, basketball games on Friday nights help unite the student body. Why not football in the fall?

In the interest of full disclosure, my stake in this proposal is that my oldest son will be a member of the varsity football team for OPRF, and the younger two play AYSO soccer (I have been an AYSO coach for the last 5 years). As much as I want to, I cannot be in three places at once. I assisted the OPRF varsity's statistician at most games this past year, and have been most impressed by?#34;and frankly envious of?#34;the turnout and support the high schools in Hinsdale, Addison, Cicero, Downers Grove and Elgin have at their games, which we only come close to experiencing at Homecoming. It is frustrating that our support for our children is so underwhelming compared to these communities' support of their children.

Lights at the stadium would reduce the Saturday morning congestion around the Farmers' Market in the fall, by curtailing the need for parking spaces at simultaneously scheduled events.

Lights at the stadium would create an attractive event on Friday nights for the community to come together, and a unifying event at a time and place where students can gather and cheer their classmates, at a time not in direct competition with their own events.

Lights at the stadium could draw increased business for the nearby restaurants and shops of The Avenue.

Lights at the stadium would take advantage of the design foresight that took place when the stadium was refurbished 4 years ago. With the transformer box and conduit channels already in place, wiring and lights can be added without affecting the new field.

Lights at the stadium would allow families (such as my own) with multiple conflicting schedules to see more of our children's games because they might not be in direct opposition at various fields around the villages.

Lights at the stadium would allow the parking garage to generate more revenue by having more occasions for its use, as well as increase concession income for the high school.

Lights at the stadium would allow other sports besides football to have their games at a facility with concessions, washrooms, and enough seating for spectators.

Lights at the stadium could allow for additional revenue sources by renting the facility to the Strikers or other organizations that are looking for additional game space in our villages during days when we wouldn't be using it.

Installation of lights at the stadium would not cost the taxpayers, as the Huskie Booster Club has committed to fundraise for the construction of light towers and wiring the field.

The following is a list of schools in the West Suburban Silver Conference with lights and Friday night football: Hinsdale Central, Downers Grove North, LaGrange (Lyons) and York. All were in the 2004 IHSA playoffs. Of the three schools without lights?#34;Glenbard West, Oak Park River Forest, Proviso West?#34;none were in the 2004 IHSA playoffs.

The following is a list of schools that have added permanent lights in the last year: Benet, Lisle, Lane Tech, Buffalo Grove, Bolingbrook and Antioch. Schools that have played under temporary lights in the last year include: Driscoll and St. Francis, Immaculate Conception St. Edward.

I urge the District 200 School Board to consider the benefits of lights at the stadium, and authorize the appropriate school officials to proceed and enhance our children's high school experience.

Brian Woulfe
Oak Park

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