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Make field plan possible

A reasonable plan to play football at a field within the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District seems to be taking shape, and we believe the public and state and local officials should get behind it.

Since 2018, the Bulldogs have been unable to play on their home field, because of flood damage to Bill Jobko Stadium. Inside the stadium, Perkins Field was constructed in 1919 and renovated in 1983, but it lies along Wheeling Creek about 1 mile upstream from the Ohio River.

As the river has risen and backed up into the creek, the field has flooded more than 40 times over the years. Following events such as Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the football and baseball fields have been under as much as 6 to 8 feet of water.

Repeated rounds of flooding eventually damaged the grandstands, making them unsafe for spectators, and they were demolished.

Subsequent home football games were played on fields of neighboring districts in Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville.

Late last year, the Bridgeport school board made the controversial decision to use eminent domain to take possession of property near the K-12 school building in Lansing to construct a new athletic complex. That work would have led to the destruction or relocation of some popular local businesses, and the resulting public outcry caused district leaders to change their minds.

Now, they are looking at ways to revive the Bulldogs’ facility at Jobko Stadium.

The first step in that direction, a flood study, has been completed. The work was done by The Kleiners Group, a Cincinnati engineering firm, and approved by Brookside Floodplain Coordinator Allen Ketzell. According to Ketzell, the engineers found that aluminum stands could be safely installed for seating since the field itself drains well and aluminum would not be damaged by flood water. He said it’s even possible that handicap-accessible restrooms could be constructed on site.

Before any of that can happen, though, a geotechnical study must be completed to determine if the ground beneath the stadium can support stable structures. If that is found to be the case, it appears that the district has a viable plan to restore its athletic complex to use in the near future.

That would be great news for the students of the district and the fans who support them. We urge the public to support the initiative and encourage state and local officials to use common sense and an eye toward a frugal solution in approving the plan.

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