Swan song for Dormont Stadium?
Nick Kamberis remembers running through the tunnel at Dormont Stadium. The rows of fans lining the field made the game feel “almost big time.”
“I always liked playing there,” said the Keystone Oaks high school football coach, a 1990 Steel Valley graduate, recalling his playing days. “I think it’s a great place for high school football.”
But Keystone Oaks is facing the quandary of whether to renovate the 53-year-old stadium or build a new one on the campus of the high school off McNeilly Road. Kamberis said he wants to see the Golden Eagles continue to play at Dormont Stadium.
But Dormont officials want to see the new stadium built to ease traffic congestion.
“I think we’re all in favor of moving it,” Dormont Mayor Tom Lloyd said.
If the stadium is built on the high school property — technically in Mt. Lebanon — officials there want a say in what happens.
“Where would the parking be?” asked Mt. Lebanon Commissioner Dale Colby, whose district includes Keystone Oaks High School. “Would it be a problem?”
District officials don’t think parking would be a problem at the high school because spaces currently are available for students and staff. Athletic Director Noreen O’Malley said football games typically draw between 2,500 and 3,000 people.
Originally built and used as a football stadium for Dormont High School, the facility currently is used by Keystone Oaks and Bishop Canevin high schools, as well as by recreation leagues for football and soccer.
The increased use has resulted in more traffic and congestion on the narrow streets in an area where parking is at a premium. Clogged streets are a problem about a dozen days a year, borough Manager John Marquart said.
The stadium’s parking lot during games is only available to those with passes from the Keystone Oaks athletic department. People are encouraged to park at Dormont Elementary School and the Dormont Pool and ride shuttles to the stadium.
Kamberis said he likes the hill leading to the stadium, likening it to Cardiac Hill in Oakland. He said moving the field to the school would take practice space away from the team. The team currently practices at the high school, and Kamberis said a new stadium would make them take buses to practice elsewhere, incurring more expenses. And the team would compete with other soccer and football teams who use the stadium for practice space, Kamberis said.
Lloyd said that he, Marquart and police Chief Russ McKibben all support a new stadium, but council hasn’t discussed it yet. Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the borough building for their monthly agenda meeting.
Colby said he’d also bring up the topic at the Mt. Lebanon commissioners’ meeting at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Medical Rescue Team South building on Cypress Way.
Valentour, English, Bodnar & Howell, a Mt. Lebanon architecture firm, presented a feasibility study to the board earlier this month. Both options would cost more than $5 million, and both would include installing artificial turf.
A needs assessment indicated that the stadium would require new lights, new wiring and a new public address system, and renovation of the pressbox. Part of the visitors’ bleachers would be removed to widen the field to accommodate soccer games and add concession stands and restrooms.
Kamberis acknowledges that the facilities are out of date.
Bishop Canevin Coach and Athletic Director Bob Jacoby said parking and location are problematic, but that the stadium itself is “top-notch,” particularly given how much it’s used.
Jeff Fabus of the Dormont Athletic Boosters Association also appreciated the support of the district and the condition of the stadium.
“The field is always in great shape,” he said.
Some moments in Dormont Stadium’s history:
1948 — Construction starts on the stadium
1950 — Veterans’ Memorial Stadium opens with a game between Dormont and South Hills high schools. More than 7,000 fans turn out
1965 — Dormont, Green Tree and Castle Shannon combine to form the Keystone Oaks School District, and continue to play their games at Dormont Stadium
1980 — Boys soccer team starts playing at Dormont Stadium
1983 — Football team is sectional champion
1994 — Girls soccer team begins play
2001 — Football team makes playoffs
2002 — Football team makes playoffs