Athletic Committee eyes needs at LaMarca Stadium

PUNXSUTAWNEY — During its meeting Monday, the Punxsutawney Area School Board Athletic Committee discussed possible improvements to be made to Jack L. LaMarca Memorial Stadium.

A large amount of work needs to be done to the district’s playing fields, especially the stadium field, said Athletic Director Bill Vassallo.

The main football field, practice field and soccer field have numerous low spots that must be filled in with top soil, he said, while committee member Bob Pascuzzo said it would take 100 tons of dirt for the stadium field, as well as dirt to grade and fill it in.

Vassallo said the practice football field is in really bad condition, as it is very uneven.

Committee member Jack White said for the fields to look good, they should be fixed professionally.

But Superintendent Dr. Keith Wolfe said, “If you’re going to do anything at all, we should wait to see how the prevailing wage threshold will be increased, which would save the district a lot of money on projects.”

Committee member Penny Pifer also said the board should fix the main field before the others.

Also, the restrooms and concession stands are both in need of renovations, Vassallo said.

The other improvement the Athletic Department seeks is upgrading the weight room. Vassallo said there had been discussions about moving it to the maintenance garage; moving the garage near the football field; and constructing new restrooms at that location.

The one problem is the acid pit would have to be moved from the current maintenance garage to a new location. Science labs drain acid into the maintenance garage, Vassallo said.

He said the donations to install field turf at the stadium are still out there.

“There’s $300,000 out there to be donated, and it’s possible there could be $600,000 in donations,” he said, adding that the Booster Club has money to spend on whatever improvements the district feels are needed.

Vassallo also said that a Pittsburgh company measured the current seating at LaMarca Stadium to be replaced with aluminum bleachers.

Pascuzzo said the stadium is an embarrassment.

“We built the middle school and renovated the high school, and in the middle is a 1960s facility,” he said. “It will cost $100,000 a year to maintain field turf and $1 million to install.”

Vassallo said there are alumni who would like to have new signs created to honor the track and field records. But board President Gary Conrad said he couldn’t agree with anything more than restrooms and dirt.

“I’m not willing to go as far as aluminum bleachers,” he said, adding that he can’t see performing improvements while looking for other areas from which to cut funds.

In other business:
• The committee will propose to the board an increase in ticket prices for football and soccer.

Vassallo said tickets would increase to $3 for adults for soccer and to $4 for football and offer a season pass for $24.

• Vassallo said PIAA is going to require the tougher concussion testing during a game.

“The athlete will take a concussion test at the beginning of the season that measures their reaction time, and if they are suspected of concussion symptoms they have to take the test again before being allowed to return to action,” Vassallo said.

The new regulations take effect July 1.