Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Facilities addendum

Just wanted to tack on a couple of additional Saline- and Milan-based points to Ed Patino's informative article in today's edition on area high school sports facilities:

1) What I especially like about Saline's football complex isn't just the obviously dynamite main stadium itself, but that the designers added the second field / track right behind it. Unless you're planning on hosting the state meet itself (and East Kentwood would appear to have the D-I meet on lock-down at the moment), football-size seating capacity isn't entirely necessary for track, and the track takes fans further away from the football action. Just as important, placing the fields back-to-back allows for two events to be held at the same site simultaneously -- letting fans of the school catch some of both and making each one feel a little bit bigger. I spent one night last fall perched in the very corner of the main stadium bleachers, watching the varsity boy's soccer game in front of me and turning during the breaks in the action to keep an eye on the JV football game behind me.

2) The Milan football field is in the process of getting a nice new set of bleachers and becoming its own complex of sorts, which is certainly good news. Have to say I'm glad it doesn't appear that FieldTurf is part of the Milan plans--I don't have anything against turf, totally understand why so many area schools have installed/are installing it, love the sort of "spring in your step" bounce you get walking across it, etc. (I'm less enthused about the many tiny fragments of rubber that find their way into one's shoe and later into one's carpet.) But very few of the of the football / lacrosse / soccer / track events I attended over the past year featured grass, and to be honest, I missed the real stuff at times. Coming from Alabama (where you could count the number of high schools in the entire state with turf fields on one hand), grass still feels just a little bit more ... high-schoolish, I guess, to me. (That's a good thing.) Again, turf is great. I'm just glad we get to cover one school with each.

3) As for the rest of Saline and Milan's facilities, well, as I wrote in my Thanksgiving column last November, I just hope the athletes here appreciate what they have. At the time, I pointed out the gaping gulf between the Hornets' and Big Reds' gyms, tracks, baseball fields, wrestling rooms, etc. and the crumbling ones I saw back down South, but the fact is that Saline and Milan have it better than a number of their contemporaries here in Michigan, too: I'm much rather play basketball in Milan's gym than Airport's or Canton's or even Ann Arbor Pioneer's, would rather swim in Saline's pool than ... well, any other high school's pool I've been to yet, I'll say that.

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