Perry County High School football stadium closes after 75 years

Community members say they have been left in the dark about the stadium’s financial woes.

CROOKSVILLE, Ohio – No Crooksville High School college football player will ever be able to run on the field of their 75-year-old stadium again.

The Crooksville exempt school district voted to build a new stadium after months of talks with the village council over whether to take over the stadium or even pay to fix the stadium lighting issue.

The problem with the stadium began years ago when the school district, village and sports association knew that the stadium light poles, which were installed here in the late 1960s, were deteriorating.

Last winter, the stadium’s light pole fell and left the stadium without power.

But to understand how to solve the problem of electricity has become complicated, you have to go back seven decades.

Crooksville Stadium may be the only secondary stadium in Ohio that does not belong to the school district. The stadium field belongs to the village, but maintenance is the sole responsibility of the sports association.

The association, made up of volunteers, accepted a 99-year lease from the village for $ 1 in exchange for maintaining the stadium.

The school district pays a fee to the sports association for using the land, but has no legal authority to pay for the improvements. Neither does the village, because neither of them owns it.

“Over time, there were fewer sports association participants as interested parents watched their children play and move on. The state of volunteering and participation has diminished, ”said village mayor Chris Mohler. “Congratulations to the members and those who were still trying, but COVID last year really took a toll on the revenue stream. No spectators, no concessions are just a few examples of lost income for them. “

According to Superintendent Kevin Smith, the cost of temporary stadium lighting has been discussed with the village.

He told 10TV it would cost $ 80,000 for a season. He said the cost to install any new permanent lighting was $ 275,000.

The village claimed it was working to have a charitable donation help pay for the permanent lighting, but the mayor said that never materialized.

A large utility company in Perrysburg, Ohio contacted Monday afternoon, pledged manpower to do the job, if the school, village, and athletic association met with a representative from the AEP to discuss a charitable donation of materials needed to do the job, ”Mohler explained.

It is not clear whether AEP was made aware of this. The company told 10TV that none of its operating staff have been contacted by anyone in the village.

The school district offered to buy the stadium and the village appeared to agree.

As the two prepared to work out the details, the district opted to build its own stadium where its junior college football team plays and where its track is currently located.

“Our goal is for us to have a facility so they can play next year,” Smith said.

He says the new stadium will be built with grants, not with a school tax.

Many community members feel they have been left in the dark about the financial issues facing the stadium and were surprised to learn that they did not have the time to fundraise to try and solve electrical problems.

“I understand why we weren’t told about this six months or a year ago,” said Chelsea Hurst, who has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for the stadium.

Hurst says 100% of the money she’s already raised will go to the new stadium.

Mohler disagrees that the community was in the dark.

“The only thing our community knows about is the football program. The sports association and the village renewed a lease for the exclusive use of the area of ​​our park which is the football field in 2007/2008. It was a 99 year lease and they had to maintain and do all the work needed to keep the land in good repair. To obtain the necessary funds to redo the bleachers, and to make improvements to the field. The school has or had until last Thursday a lease with the sports association to play games on this ground. Many of the community, the association and the school knew about it, ”he said.

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