Niskayuna

Niskayuna athletic fields set for needed upgrades

The football field, surrounded by the track, is seen at Niskayuna High School on Nov. 18, 2020.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

The football field, surrounded by the track, is seen at Niskayuna High School on Nov. 18, 2020.

Renovations to the Niskayuna High School athletic stadium are expected to impact sports teams and physical education for at least a year, maybe two.

The renovations are part of the district’s nearly $80 million Capital Improvement Project planned to take place over the next few years. Included in the project is a $10-to- $11 million dollar renovation of the athletic fields at the high school.

District spokesperson Matt Leon said they are in dire need of upgrades, a longtime concern of the community — also recognized by the district.

“Currently, the track is in such poor condition that two lanes cannot be used at all and that the high school can no longer host home track and field meets,” Leon said in an email on Wednesday. “Other issues with the outdoor athletic facilities include a lack of accessibility for individuals with disabilities, baseball fields that are often unplayable during the season due to poor drainage and dugouts and backstops that have not been updated in upwards of 30 years. Traffic flow and lack of parking are also issues.”

Work to be completed includes:

  • Installation of a new track
  • Construction of a new, enlarged multi-sport turf field within the track
  • Installation of new baseball and softball fields
  • Development of additional parking spaces and improvements to roadway safety and traffic flow
  • Improvements to make the stadium accessible for people with disabilities

Other items may be added depending on the cost of these projects, Leon said.

The focus of work at the stadium was determined by the current conditions of the facility and feedback from the community over the years, according to the district spokesperson.

During a school board meeting Tuesday, Jim King, an architect with King and King Architects, gave an update on the project. Work is expected to begin in the spring.

“Physical education and sports will be impacted for a good portion of the following year,” King said at the meeting. “Baseball may be even longer.”

Leon said the work will be completed in stages over the next year to two years.

However, the district is already looking at where its sports teams can practice and hold games, King said.

Leon said physical education classes will take place in other areas of the school, including the gyms and front fields. The district is seeking the use of space at other schools and colleges for impacted athletic teams’ practices during the completion of the project, and competitions for those impacted with take place at away locations.

He said softball currently plays at Van Antwerp Middle School and will not be impacted. The upcoming baseball will finish out at the high school, but the team will likely need an alternate location for the 2023 season. As for the upcoming track and field season, the team will practice and compete away from the high school.

Once the fall arrives, the football team will also practice and compete away from home. Leon said the district is “fortunate to have a great relationship with Schenectady Schools.” The Silver Warriors have used the Patriots’ nearby field in the past when their Balltown Road location was unplayable.

“We know that this work will require flexibility and patience,” Leon said, “but it will be well worth it in the long run with a facility that our students, families and community will be able to enjoy and take pride in for years to come.”

Categories: Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

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