Opinion: Stadium Repairs, Updates Should Continue

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Copyright 2018 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail


Vintage might be in, but not when it comes to stadium equipment.

News on Thursday that the Kanawha County Board of Education would replace the scoreboard — three decades old and in dire need of junking — at University of Charleston Stadium was more than welcome. That scoreboard is old, broken down and obsolete. In its place will be a new Daktronics scoreboard with high-definition video capabilities and the ability to post times for individual lanes on the track that wraps around the football field.

It's something sorely needed and much more befitting a venue that, even though it no longer hosts the state football championships, is the home to so many important events in the Kanawha Valley and West Virginia as a whole.

UC plays its home football games there. So does Capital High. The North-South All-Star football game is played there each summer. The stadium is home to the Gazette-Mail Relays, the state track and field championships and hosts the finish line to the Charleston Distance Run.

So how does it look when the public address announcer at a Class AAA state semifinal football game must broadcast the score of the game everyone in the stadium is watching over the loudspeakers, because too many bulbs are burned out on the scoreboard to properly post it?

Think about it: The last game before the Super Six in the state's largest classification, and the stadium in West Virginia's capital city has to tell fans the score because they can't read it. That's pretty embarrassing. So bravo to Kanawha County Schools for fixing the problem, hopefully before May's state track and field championships.

But the good news shouldn't stop there.

The scoreboard isn't the only thing that needs fixed. The stadium's track, long in need of repair, should be replaced. The football field's turf has overstayed its use. New turf needs to be installed, for the safety of UC football players, local prep football players and any other football team that uses it.

That's the responsibility of both the University of Charleston and Kanawha County Schools, which entered a 50-year naming-rights agreement in 2005. The turf is UC's problem to fix. The scoreboard and track are the school board's problems to fix. And since these two entities are joined at the hip in that stadium until 2054, heads need to get together to keep the repairs rolling.

That's not saying that those conversations haven't begun. They just haven't been publicly announced. And if those talks have started, the two parties would be smart to make them public as soon as possible, to quiet any concerns that the cans keep getting kicked down the road.

A revitalized UC Stadium would be a wonderful thing for the city of Charleston. It would cement the building's status as home to so many big events in West Virginia — and just might be what the capital city needs to woo the state football championships back south in the future.

But talk of the future is meaningless unless the problems at the stadium keep getting fixed in the present.

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February 19, 2018


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