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Those who happened to stroll by Volstead Field as of late may have noticed the absence of the Yellow Medicine East football crows nest and scoreboard as each have been removed and are scheduled to be replaced – if all goes as planned – by August 31.
According to Yellow Medicine East Athletic Director Tim Knapper, both the scoreboard and the crows nest have become outdated and obsolete for their own respective reasons and, if anything, are long overdue for an overhaul.
Originally built in the 70s, “Our’s is probably the smallest and definitely the oldest crows nest that we crawl up into, and I don’t know how many times we’ve repaired and repainted it” said Knapper. “The siding was falling apart and there were dead and alive animals just about every time you went in because of the holes on the sides and in the bottom. It was getting to be a huge safety concern, so it was definitely time to replace it.”
The old scoreboard, meanwhile, had still been running on incandescent light bulbs that Knapper noted are no longer available for purchase.
“It’s going to look similar to the old one, but with LED lights and some new bells and whistles,” he said.
Both items had been included on the school’s Capital Improvements budget over the previous few years and come as a pair of expenses that are not a surprise. Knapper said the school is hoping to work with local contractors to keep the cost of the crows nest work around $30,000, while the new scoreboard will run approximately $14,000.
“To put in a new pre-fabricated box and bleachers for a thousand people it would have cost us $170,000, so to be able to do it for around the number we’re projecting has us pretty happy,” he said.
After considering a few different locations, Knapper said the school found that it was most prudent to stand pat and rebuild the crows nest at the existing site. Still, there are a few issues that will have to be overcome that largely stem from an inconveniently placed light pole as well as the new building’s need for a larger footprint.
“Back when they build the old nest at 25 - 26 feet, it was probably good enough to house everybody,” he said. “But nowadays you usually have a minimum of two radio stations, at least a person from each team filming games, four people that are being paid to run the clock, scoreboard, spot and announce – and then you have to have equal amount of room for each coaching staff, which is typically two to three people as well.”
Knapper said that the coming nest will rest on new masonry and stand the same height as the old, but consisting of two side-by-side structures the new width will combine to span 40 feet.
While whether the pole will be moved to accommodate the building, or the building designed to accommodate the pole, is still uncertain – it is known that the project’s August 31 deadline, five days before YME’s first home game, could force the issue.
“We’re talking to the city and county about setbacks and other matters in regard to the pole – and it’s like with any construction project, it takes as long to get it going and off the ground as it does to build the thing,” he said. “My hope is that sometime in the next week or so we’re beginning the project and have a legitimate shot of getting it done. It would be very difficult to host varsity games without a crows nest and all necessary electrical hookups.”