ELMA — Elma High School’s varsity football team will now play its four 2014 home games at Stewart Field in Aberdeen.
At its regular meeting Wednesday night, the Elma School Board reversed a decision it had made in early March to play those games at Davis Field, despite the recent demolition of its aging and termite-infested 800-seat grandstands.
The lightly attended meeting came on the heels of a work study meeting two weeks earlier that was packed by football boosters — led by head coach Jim Hill — that became contentious at times.
Hill and his supporters, who said they were operating under the assumption that portable bleachers would be installed at Davis Field, contended they were blindsided by the board’s decision made four months earlier and appealed to have the games moved to Aberdeen. Hill and his supporters weren’t at Wednesday’s meeting.
A committee looked at the issue with a recommendation to move the 2014 home games to Aberdeen.
Home games originally scheduled for Davis Field for Sept. 19, Oct. 3, Oct. 10 and Oct. 24 will now be played at Stewart Field. Due to scheduling conflicts on a couple of Fridays, the Sept. 19 contest against Rochester will now be played on Thursday night, Sept. 18, and the Oct. 24 game against Eatonville will now be played sometime on Saturday, Oct. 25.
Elma High home soccer and junior varsity football games will still be played as scheduled at Davis Field and the district will bring in portable — but uncovered — bleachers there.
The move to Stewart Field will cost the district an estimated $6,000 in extra transportation costs and $490 per game in stadium rental fees, according to district officials.
“This allows us to have covering where our fans can sit,” Elma High athletic director Paul Gaskins told the board.
With board member Julie Jackson resigning from the board and member Larry Bridenback absent, the board voted 3-0 to move the games, but made it clear they were doing it only for the 2014 season.
“I want to make it clear that I’m doing this for the kids and grandparents. I’m not doing it for Coach Hill,” said board member Rick Gravatt, who has served on the board since 2001.
“This is a one-year thing,” said board chairman Carl Jonsson. “We need all those people who were here at the last meeting — the football boosters — to step up and come up with solutions for the coming years. We need to have 2015 games at Davis Field. We are the Elma Eagles and we need to have games at Davis Field.”