Winning debut at Ravenna Stadium

By Heather Deeley Record-Courier staff writer Published:

But the win didn't hurt.

"This is a victory for the city of Ravenna and the school system," Ravenna resident Jeff Buller said. "I think it was important that the game was played tonight _ for the morale of the school system. And it's in a beautiful setting too."

The Board of Education and the administrators were bound and determined to have the game at the stadium Friday.

"This is the date we set, and it was attainable," Superintendent Philip Warner said. "To see the excitement in the eyes of the band and the football players and the cheerleaders _ we're not going to deprive them of opening the stadium if we don't have to. I know it's not the greatest seating on the visitors' side and it's not all finished, but people have been understanding and accepting. Based on the supportive comments from (Thursday's) open house and tonight, there is no reason we shouldn't be playing tonight."

The City of Ravenna was unable to issue a temporary occupancy permit due to building code violations. Building Inspector Jeff Stone examine the stadium Friday morning with Fire Chief Jim DiPaola and other officials, and determined exposed conduit pipes, scoreboard wires, muddy areas and other code violations did not warrant approval. The city did not take action to prohibit the use of the facility, on the condition the board does not hold the city liable for loss or damage for a 24-hour period.

"Obviously, we had no problems with the insurance carrier," Warner said. "No issues of safety or quality were sacrificed."

Southeast High School students Rance Robenstine, Mike John, Lincoln Hess and Garrett Suzelis were impressed with the facility, which resembles a "Division I field." Suzelis and Hess said they are leery about playing soccer on the artificial turf.

"That stuff will rip up your legs," Suzelis said. "But at least the football players can't say the soccer players messed up the field."

"You'd think they'd have a grass field just to protect Marcus (Sanders, Ravenna's running back)," Robenstine said.

Players' safety was a big issue for the board, President Connie Mansfield said. The turf is a newly developed material purchased from JaMac Turf, USA.

"The University of Nebraska is one of the first conference teams to use it," Mansfield said previously. Layers of shredded tires and sand are said to keep players safe from injuries, she said.

While some Southeast band members were nervous about tripping on the artificial turf, the Ravens liked the way the field gave under their marching feet. The Pirates gave the audience a 1950s show, while Ravenna's theme was swing.

While many rejoiced for the new stadium, many will morn the loss of the

old stadium when Gilcrest is torn down Monday morning.

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