West Campus Revamp: History in the Re-making

Dallastown’s 63 year-old stadium, originally built in 1959, may be getting a modern makeover starting next fall.

An+aerial+photo+taken+of+the+brand+new+Dallastown+High+School+football+stadium+taken+in+1959.

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An aerial photo taken of the brand new Dallastown High School football stadium taken in 1959.

The most iconic staple on the Dallastown High School and Middle School campuses is the Football stadium, otherwise known as American Legion Field.

The ever-famous Friday night football games bring hundreds of guests from family members to alumni, back to the stadium to see history being made and records being broken. Now, the stadium could possibly have a brand new look entering the 2022-2023 football season.

“The project isn’t a go, but is still in the planning phases,” said Dr. Doll, Dallastown’s Superintendent of Schools. “We’re currently in the process of putting a bid document together and the bid will most likely go out in August or September of next year.”

The district has put a lot of thought and time into deciding what area of the school most deserved a renovation.

“We’ve been planning this since the turf field was installed.” Doll said. “We looked at all the fields, and in the last year we zeroed in on the safety of the West campus.”

The West campus covers the student and faculty parking lots as well as the football stadium, all of which will be changed if the bids are accepted by the school board.

“There are safety concerns with the plumbing in the bathrooms, leaks in the press box, and stairs of the old cinder block stadium being uneven.” Doll said.

In addition to those issues, one of the biggest challenges for the families of Dallastown students – as well as alumni – is how difficult it is for people with wheelchairs and walkers to get into the stadium.

At the entrance, there is a steep hill leading up to the field; those who are handicapped or use a walker often have the most trouble accessing the stadium. The plans for the renovation include elongating the grade so it’s less steep, making it easier for everybody to enter.

“We plan to make it more ADA accessible, which really ties into enhancing the safety around the stadium.” Doll noted.

Another concern for the school was the student and faculty parking lots, and how many accidents occur every year.

“We’re going to be extending the student parking lot to add additional spaces.” Doll mentioned. “ There will also be a new exit from the student parking lot onto New School Lane, as well as a third lane for those turning left onto Blymire by the stadium.”

All of these additions and changes to the parking areas act as the schools hope to create better traffic flow for school events, as well as prevent more accidents from happening.

The bids that the school receives from the companies at the end of August will be looked over by the administration and school board, and the decision to proceed or postpone the project will be made at the September 23rd board meeting. 

There are a lot of things to take into consideration when it comes to the renovations being approved, the largest being: the budget.

“The budget is the biggest priority, the bids that come back from the contractors must be under or at the proposed $4.9 million budget,” said Doll. “We may delay the project if bids are too high due to material cost.”

If the renovations are approved, the field will be closed to students and faculty after the 2021 – 2022 football season to begin construction on the stadium itself. 

“I’m hopeful that we’re able to proceed with the project because it will have great benefit for the students and school for years to come.””

— Dr. Doll

“We want to maintain normalcy as much as possible.” Doll noted. 

With the onset of the construction, there will have to be a few temporary adjustments made by the students and staff of the High school and Middle schools.

“The stadium will be closed to students, public, and staff with the addition of temporary entrances and exits off Blymire.” Doll said. “Physical Education classes, as well as many spring sports, will be moved to other locations on campus while the stadium is closed.”

Another important event for high schoolers – more particularly seniors – is graduation. If the construction is delayed or doesn’t go as planned the school will have to find another location to hold the ceremony for the class of 2022.

In May of 2021, the beacon staff got the incredible opportunity to interview one of the members from the class of 1959; the year that the High school was first opened for student attendance. 

Bruce Rost, former and first-ever Willy the Wildcat, was elated to recollect on his senior year here at the High school and what football games were like. 

“Hopefully they’ll have their act together and come out with something that’s functional.””

— Bruce Rost

“Oh my gosh it was a blessing,” Rost noted as he remembered his first game in the new stadium.

The old High School football field is now what we know as Cougar Field today.

“There was nothing there.” Rost said, “we didn’t even have bleachers to speak of.”

Although the stadium was an amazing asset to the new high school in 1959, it has slowly become outdated and in need of improvements from all aspects. When asked about his opinion on the possibility of the new renovations to the stadium, Rost was encouraging on one condition.

“I have no problem with it,” he said. “If there’s a good reason for the facility to be replaced, if there’s a structural problem, this might be a good thing.

The renovations will also ensure that other sports like field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, as well as track and field, will all also benefit when they play games at the new stadium.

Although it’s hard to see a piece of history so crucial to Dallastown go, the future plans will pave the way for even more Friday Night football games to come.