KINGSTON – When Wyoming Seminary's football team returns to competition next year, the Kingston prep school plans to provide the team with a renovated $4 million stadium to play in.
The private school is planning to completely refurbish and reorient Nesbitt Field, which opened in 1922, in time for the fall 2013 football season. Kingston zoning officials approved the school's requests for variances and special zoning exceptions this week, enabling the project to move forward.
School spokeswoman Gail Smallwood said the renovated field between Chestnut Avenue and Schuyler Avenue will enhance the school's athletic programs and bring its facilities in line with other East Coast private schools.
In order to have quality athletic programs and quality facilities it is now time for us to renovate Nesbitt Field, Smallwood said. It was state-of-the-art in 1922 and we want to make it state-of-the-art now in the 21st century.
The renovations will replace the grass field and tennis courts at the stadium, which run parallel to Chestnut Avenue, and replace them with two synthetic turf fields running parallel to West Hoyt Street.
The grandstands, stadium and locker rooms along Chestnut Avenue will be demolished and replaced with new grandstands, locker rooms, entrance and press box along West Hoyt Street. The stone walls surrounding the field will be torn down and replaced with fencing and landscaped areas.
Smallwood said the turf will contain 2-inch-long synthetic grass blades engineered for safety and durability.
The fields will provide practice and competition space for the school's boys and girls soccer, field hockey and baseball teams. One will also serve as a football field when that team re-forms next year, Smallwood said.
The football team disbanded after a large number of seniors and postgraduate students graduated following the 2010 season and not enough underclassmen turned out to field a team. Smallwood said Sem is in the process of hiring a head football coach and hopes to field a junior varsity team in the 2013 season, expanding to a varsity team in 2014.
It's a very historic program; our football team played in the first night football game against Mansfield University, Smallwood said. We've had a lot of success over the years and this facility will allow us to have a successful athletic program overall.
Because fifth-year postgraduate students are allowed to play, Seminary does not compete in the Wyoming Valley Conference but schedules games against other private schools.
Smallwood said the dual fields at the new stadium will also allow the boys and girls soccer teams to practice and play games at the field. Before the dissolution of the school's football team, the boys soccer team would practice at the Wyoming Seminary Lower School in Forty Fort.
The field joins a number of new athletic facilities the school has added in recent years.
In 2007 Sem opened Klassner Field at the corner of West Hoyt Street and Chestnut Avenue for field hockey and boys and girls lacrosse games and in 2009 added the O. Charles Lull Tennis Center on Chestnut Avenue.
Smallwood said the addition of a second lacrosse field will enable the school to host lacrosse tournaments.
It is also the latest in a series of major construction projects the school is planning, including the building of a new creative arts center and the closing of North Sprague Avenue to form a cul-de-sac.
Smallwood said the renovations will be financed by a capital giving campaign, which has been under way for several years.