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Work continues on the concession area at the National Bank of Commerce Spartan Sports Complex on Monday morning behind Superior High School. Recent rainy weather has slowed down the construction a little. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

New plan for SHS baseball field

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Spartan baseball players will have a new home field in 2015, but it won’t be theirs alone.

The Superior school district is redrawing plans for the field following a complaint about possible Title IX violations.

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Superintendent Janna Stevens said the Superior School Board decided to modify the field at its June 2 committee of the whole meeting.

“That’s already done and in the works,” she said.

The artificial turf field, now under construction near Superior High School, is part of the district’s $4 million National Bank of Commerce Spartan Sports Complex. Original plans called for the baseball team to use the field exclusively, but Stevens said it will now be a dual-use field for both the baseball and softball teams.

The Superior School Board took action after receiving a letter from community member John Heinen.

In his letter, Heinen said the district could be in violation of Title IX, which is designed to prevent discrimination based on gender in education programs and activities. He noted that the “baseball team will have many advantages and amenities that the softball team does not have.”

Among the discrepancies, the new baseball field will have an announcer’s building, scoreboard and lights, none of which are present at the Superior Middle School fields currently used by the softball team. Heinen also pointed out that the SMS fields have no bathrooms or running water.

Ray Kosey, SHS activities director, said he met with both the softball and baseball coaches during initial planning for the new sports complex. At that time, the softball team opted to remain at the SMS fields.

“Because the WIAA does not allow softball sectional games to be played on turf at this time, and (because of) the different dimensions and markings for baseball and softball fields, softball coaches did not want to have a multi-use facility that they would share with baseball,” Kosey said. “It was decided to work on improvements on the SMS softball fields and use those two fields as the practice and game fields for junior varsity and varsity softball.”

But now the school district is moving ahead with a plan for a multi-use field, Kosey said. Improvements to the SMS fields have been put on hold, but they are not off the table.

“Any plan developed would have to be supported by the school district for the plan to be approved and work to be done,” Kosey said.

The new multi-use field will have a portable mound with bases and fences that can be adjusted for softball.

Stevens said the additional cost to make the field dual-use was minimal, but she couldn’t give an exact figure.

Kosey declined to give a firm estimate until decisions had been made about fencing, field markings, bases and the pitching mound.

“I would say any extra cost for the multi-field conversion would come from donations to the complex, SHS fundraising funds or program supplies budgets,” he said.

The district currently has about $4.7 million in funding for the sports complex. The School Board allocated $4 million for the project in October, and an additional $700,000 has been raised in the months since.

Stevens said the change is likely for the best, although the school district’s attorneys assured her there had been no violation of Title IX.

Kosey said the new plan presents opportunities, and a committee is working to determine the best course forward.

“Having the ability to play both softball and baseball will protect the district against possible equity concerns and be a benefit if we decide to play at different sites but a site is unplayable because of weather conditions,” Kosey said. “If a short- and long-term plan can be developed to have softball play at SMS, the district will consider it if it is equitable for the programs and is fiscally responsible for the district.”

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