Sunday, September 7, 2003

Kings makes do with old sports field



By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TWP. - Kings Schools parents and other supporters are rallying to make sure their athletes still have a home field in the aftermath of the discovery of lead contamination on school fields.

Athletic boosters and other volunteers have helped move concession stands and other game-related operations from the now-closed George G. King Memorial Stadium to nearby Galbreath Field, which Kings schools will use for home athletic events. Meanwhile, crews have been replacing the wooden bleachers as well as fencing and rails of the aged stadium.

Work began last week after district officials announced that the Kings stadium, some fields and an area near the junior high entrance would remain closed until environmental officials can remove lead-contaminated soil, left over from a long-closed skeet shooting range and gun club.

The fields could be closed for the entire school year, as additional testing and the cleanup are still to come.

"I think the boys on the football team will pull together. I know the parents will," said Kings parent Nick Bauer, who is among dozens of parents who have volunteered to help with the Sept. 12 home game against Wilmington. "This is a great community, and in the end, it'll be all right."

Galbreath Field, a couple hundred yards away from Kings High School, was used for high school football games until 2002, when it was abandoned. The field's owner, the Great American Insurance Co., donated its use.

Kings maintenance crews said a safety engineer identified where structural work could be done at Galbreath. While the upper sections will not be repaired, 62 wooden boards and more than 400 bolts will reinforce the lower sections, which will be able to seat 4,100 fans, more than twice the capacity of Kings stadium.

Younger students are designing banners to decorate the stadium and make it feel more like home before the Oct. 3 homecoming game.

"My heart goes out to those young men and women, because they've lost their site, and it's due to nothing that they've done," Superintendent Chuck Mason said. "We're going to try and make it as good as we can for the rest of the year."

Reporter Michael D. Clark contributed to this report.

E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com




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