Biddeford Football Head Coach Brian Curit stands in front of eroded pavement that the Waterhouse Field bleachers once laid upon. Curit expressed great enthusiasm about the prospect of his team playing at the field once again this fall. RYDER SCHUMACHER/Journal Tribune

Biddeford Football Head Coach Brian Curit stands in front of eroded pavement that the Waterhouse Field bleachers once laid upon. Curit expressed great enthusiasm about the prospect of his team playing at the field once again this fall. RYDER SCHUMACHER/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — Come Sept. 1, the Biddeford Tigers football team will take to the recently locked- down Waterhouse Field for their season opener.

The field, which was closed indefinitely bcause of safety issues concerning the field’s bleachers, was provided new life after the city council decided to refinance a $34 million bond from renovations to Biddeford High School, returning to the city $1.18 million in savings that was then allocated to the field for repairs.

Many were uncertain what the state of the field would be by the start of the fall sports season, but according to School Superintendent Jeremy Ray the school has been confident teams will be able to utilize the historic field for the opening day games.

“We are planning to play there,” said Ray during a phone call. “It’s been in the works. Our goal has always been to play there, and certainly once we were able to refinance the bond and use the money towards Waterhouse Field we’ve been working as expediently as possible to get things going.”

The decision to put the $1.18 million towards the field has been a contentious topic over the past four months. Many residents, and some city councilors, felt the city had little right to allocate funds for field repairs instead of using it to pay the debt. Others felt alternative playing field options should have been further investigated.

Nonetheless, the bond savings have been transferred to a special School Capital Reserve Fund, and repairs have been well underway for months.

As of now the fields original bleachers have been removed and will be replaced with temporary bleachers from a neighboring school, Ray said. He added the installation of permanent bleachers won’t happen till the end of the season, but a replacement set will be borrowed from a neighboring school. Additionally, new exterior fencing is to be in place by the beginning of September, new lights will be installed by August 20 and an all-in-one, high-tech video scoreboard and new speaker system will be setup by mid-September.

“(The scoreboard) is something that is very, very unique, but we will have to learn how to use it,” Ray said.

The scoreboard will have a digital screen, according to Ray, who said that one of the goals of the repairs was to modernize the facility and to make sure it has the ability for multiple uses, other than just football games.

“We have put together an initial plan while making sure our surface is wired enough for all athletic contests. We’ll still be able to establish that intimate feeling of being on top of the field,” Ray said.

Already the field has seen a massive overhaul by the hands of volunteer work; a demonstration that contractor Jim Godbout — who is providing services in kind to the community, saving the city general contracting fees — has been highly impressed with.

“We’ve had about everything you can imagine in terms of volunteer work. It’s the type of thing this community is bred on,” Godbout said. “You talk about this ‘Tiger Pride’, well pride is everywhere in this community, not just in the athletes, it’s in the people who live here and even people who surround this area. I mean some of our volunteers don’t even come from Biddeford, they come from all over the place.”

Biddeford Varsity Football Head Coach Brian Curit, who will be entering his 18th year of coaching the squad, has spent each season at Waterhouse Field. As much as it means to him to be able to return to the field this fall, he likes to consider what it will mean to his players.

“The option that was placed in front of us months ago was that we would play all our contests on the road, which was very disappointing considering that my senior class dreamed about their senior season at Waterhouse,” Curit said. “(Ray) really took the bull by the horns, as well the Waterhouse Foundation, the School Board, City Council and this volunteer effort. They all deserve a ton of credit.”

— Staff Writer Ryder Schumacher can be reached at 282-1535, or via email at [email protected]

 

 

 

 


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