MONTESANO — Aberdeen’s Stewart Field and other neighboring schools will serve as homes-away-from-home for Montesano football and girls soccer teams this fall after a Sunday night fire destroyed the grandstand at Jack Rottle Field.
Rottle Field was one of the Harbor’s most heavily used athletic facilities, hosting Monte varsity, junior varsity, C squad and seventh and eighth-grade football, plus junior varsity and varsity girls soccer.
The fire prompted the rescheduling of four Montesano games this week, athletic director Tim Trimble reported.
Tonight’s Napavine-Montesano girls soccer game has been shifted to Aberdeen’s Stewart Field and the Montesano-Miller seventh-grade football game, originally planned for Rottle Field, has been moved to Miller.
Instead of hosting Forks in soccer and volleyball on Thursday, the Bulldogs will travel to Forks on that day. The Spartans will visit the Harbor on Oct. 16, but the site of the soccer match is yet to be determined.
Montesano has only two varsity home football games remaining.
The Sept. 28 Homecoming contest with Forks has already been shifted to Stewart Field. The site for the home finale against Rainier on Oct. 19 is undetermined, as both Stewart Field and Hoquiam’s Olympic Stadium are booked that night for Aberdeen and Hoquiam home games.
Trimble floated the possibility of playing the Rainier game on a Thursday night or Saturday afternoon. Elma’s Davis Field is also open on Friday night that week.
Stewart Field, which installed synthetic turf in 2010, figures to be a popular site for Bulldog games in the near-future, but Trimble said other Harbor venues might be utilized as well.
“The surrounding schools have all been very cooperative,” the Montesano athletic director noted.
Since firefighters were able to prevent the blaze from spreading to the adjacent Bo Griffith Memorial Gym, indoor events such as volleyball and basketball should not be affected by the fire. Trimble reported some water damage to the upstairs portion of the gym near the weightroom and “very minor surface damage” to the outside of the facility.
Since the field itself was unaffected by the fire, there has been some speculation that football and soccer could continue at Montesano with the installation of temporary bleachers. Trimble, however, noted that the stadium’s electrical system was extensively damaged in the fire.
“I would say there would not be a night game here. If anything was to happen, it would happen in the afternoon, but I would not think (that’s likely),” Trimble said. “The PA system, scoreboard and lighting are all hurdles that will have to be crossed before you can play there.”
If school officials follow through on their plans to rebuild, Rottle Field might be suitable to host Montesano home football and girls soccer games next fall.
“Hopefully, in the spring, we’ll be able to use the field for (boys) soccer and track, but we’d have limited seating,” Trimble said. “We’ll make the best of it and go from there.”