I’ll admit this up front, this is somewhat of a recycled topic and take. However, I must speak about it once again as such little progress has been made.
It is time, or rather, has been time for a while to see the Warwick public high schools receive new fields and amenities for their teams. As we approach the end of another school year, it really is a frustrating shame that these kids are still subjected to such sub-par facilities.
Last week I covered a lacrosse game at Cranston West. The field is beautiful, the stands were touched up when the turf was installed, there was a fully functioning PA system and press box. It really is an impressive facility that the city should be proud of. They decided to reward the Falcons and did just that.
I recently have covered events at both Pilgrim and Vets, and it is just another year of wear and tear that is amounting to an annual disappointment.
At Pilgrim, the stands are still a work in progress and fans need to continue to drag their own chairs to have a place to sit. Back in the fall just before homecoming, the school had to shut the bleachers down after they were reported to not be up to code and deemed unsafe. The school department rushed to the site and said that it would work alongside Pilgrim to make sure the situation was addressed and fixed ASAP. Now, months and months later, the progress has been minimal.
Then at Vets. Although the baseball field is playable, the surrounding area is also an eye sore that doesn’t have stands of any sort. It is just a wide open space with a bunch of junk. The entire complex needs a massive facelift.
Whenever I speak on this topic I always make sure to mention that I am not well-versed in politics and budgets, all of that. But at the end of the day, as all of these years have passed, it is clear that the school department simply does not value sports the way that it should. A few years back when sports were nearly eliminated from the budget was evidence enough, but things like this just continue to build my case.
When it comes to these facilities, a little will go a long way. It may not seem like it, but I’m pretty confident that any improvements made would be welcomed. Whether it is new stands, new fields, new press boxes. Pilgrim and Vets need all of the above and as time goes on, they will only need them more. We can’t just keep pushing this off and hoping it goes away. That is clearly what happened with the stands at Pilgrim and is going to keep happening.
I also believe that an underused facility is the football field up behind Toll Gate. It has been used more often as of late, primarily for day games, but that seems like a place that could be a huge asset for the Titans.
I looked into why that field is used rather sparingly, and the biggest hurdle to overcome is the parking. It has one small lot and then the road that people can park along. There is another large field adjacent to that one in which the football team practices on. The condition of the practice field is rough, so if you ask me, they should just use that field as a parking lot considering the grass has not been maintained in quite some time.
The field is in good shape, as is the track that surrounds it. If you add parking on the practice field, then all of a sudden you have a solid new option beyond just day games with small crowds. You can make it the new go-to spot for Toll Gate sports instead of making the Titans split time between there, Vets and other parks throughout the city. Maybe they could also convert the practice field into a new baseball field? I don’t know, it just seems like that facility up there has so much potential and is overlooked.
I have given up hope that we will see the new Mickey Stevens complex idea come to fruition, at least anytime soon. We can’t even get safe bleachers to sit on, what makes us think that we are going to insert a brand new athletics complex downtown and built from scratch? Not happening.
I know that there are plans in place to replace each public high school. Maybe new athletics facilities will be included? It does not sound like they will, but who knows.
At least these schools have options throughout the city. Some games are played up at Winslow Park, sometimes at City Park, CCRI has even lent a hand over the years. I guess one positive is that these kids will always have somewhere to compete. It just is disappointing that their home fields are in such rough shape and continue to be neglected.
Again, I have touched on this topic a few times, but I didn’t think we’d be approaching May and still have these issues at hand. I was hoping that the bleacher conundrum back in the fall would maybe be the foot in the rear to get the ball rolling that the city needed, but I was sadly mistaken.
I take back what I said earlier. I did expect to see nothing happen, I just thought that maybe I would be proven wrong. I have zero faith in the school department hooking these kids up with new fields, stands, facilities, what have you. It would not surprise me to see this issue persist for many more years. It is so obvious that sports are low on the pecking order which is upsetting.
We all know that value of sports for teenagers. Sure, school and learning comes first, but to minimize athletics the way that Warwick has over the years has been disturbing.
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