For more than 70 years, the Davis Field grandstands at Elma High School has housed generations of football and sports fans inside its wooden enclosure, keeping them safe from the elements.
However, after the 2013-14 school year, the elements will proclaim victory when the volunteer-built structure will be torn down — if the recommendation of the Elma School District Board is ratified.
The school board will meet at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the commons to discuss the recommendation by Elma Superintendent Howard King to tear down the structure and what plans should the board and the district look at to replace them.
Those walking on the David Field grandstands hear the usual sounds of wood bending beneath their feet. You never worry about it, just sat down and enjoyed the game played in front of you — football and boys and girls soccer.
Elma athletic director Rick Rakevich noted at the meeting that the only sports facility that has been paid for by the school district is its track & field complex next to Davis Field. The rest — the grandstands at Davis Field and Eagle Field baseball and softball complex — was built by community and volunteer help.
But the reality of Davis Field had me thinking not just what the future holds for Elma and its sports programs, but of the other school districts and their owned facilities.
Thus the question: Do you know how old the seats you are sitting on at your home facilities?
Based on responses from various representatives from the Twin Harbors’ school districts, most of the school-owned facilities are between 20-40 years old. Some of the structures’ age are approximate, based upon when the school was built. A few schools didn’t have enough information to pin down the age.
To start, look at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field., which was brought up by a few Elma boosters in the discussion about replacing Davis Field. The field, a fund-raised and grant-funded FieldTurf renovation in 2010, is the latest renovation on the Harbor. The structure around the new field, however, is a bit older.
Various versions of the three-sided complex have been in place on the banks of the Wishkah River, but the most recent renovation probably took place when the old Natatorium was torn down in 2000. The Natatorium was built in the 1920s and the entire complex was connected to Robert Gray Elementary School.
At Montesano, Rottle Field’s grandstand is in a state of construction after the fire consumed it in 2012. At Hoquiam, Sea Breeze Oval’s concrete grandstand is as old as the school, which was built in 1967. The Grizzlies are lucky in that most of their outdoor sports are played at Olympic Stadium, which is city-owned — and built in 1937, easily one of the oldest complex used for high school sports on the Harbor.
Of course, the scoreboard at Olympic Stadium does need work, especially when the scoreboard operator has to treat it with kid gloves and you ignore the Mario Brothers-esque sounds that it makes.
Heading to the ocean, North Beach High School was built in the very early 1990s after the high school’s shift from Moclips in 1989. The concrete grandstand behind the school would also fit into the “as old as the school” category.
Up north, Taholah doesn’t have a grandstand, but its scorekeeping/football field tower is just over 10 years old. At Lake Quinault, Fred Soth Stadium swayed with the recent storm winds and has had some work done to it over the years, but accurate information on its age was unavailable.
Ocosta’s grandstand, which is more accurately described as bleachers with a roof covering them and a large press/PA box atop of it, was built in 1999, with the new track surface installed the following year.
At Wishkah, Addison Field’s grandstand was torn down recently due to termites. The field underwent some work, but temporary bleachers are all that is left there with the Loggers returning from a two-year exile this season.
On the Willapa Harbor, the three rivals have younger grandstand facilities.
At Raymond, the new grandstands and locker room/concession stands building were built in 2004-05.
Over at South Bend’s Millam Field, the current grandstands were built in 1995 and were paid for by a 1994 bond. According to South Bend athletic director Tom Sanchez, the Indians went through the 1994 season away from Millam Field and won their first game at the new facility, a 14-12 victory over Warrenton, Ore.
At Willapa Valley, athletic director John Peterson consulted Sanchez over the age of Crogstad Field’s grandstand. Sanchez was a senior when the current grandstand debuted in 1981, a 21-0 loss to rival Raymond.
Willapa Valley superintendent (and former football coach) Rob Friese noted that the grandstand was built a year after he graduated from Valley and joked, “I think they are made out of straw … and cow manure.”
It is safe to say that the new Davis Field complex won’t be made of straw and cow manure. It is also safe to say that Twin Harbors sports fans have been sitting in older structures for a very long time. It is a miracle more schools haven’t had to answer the same questions Elma is being asked to.
There isn’t a debate as to the fate of Davis Field’s grandstand. It is coming down. The debate will be finding the answer to these questions — what will Elma’s new seats look like and what structure/complex will house them?
Rob Burns is a Daily World sports writer. He can be reached at (360) 537-3926 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @RobRVR.