NEWBURYPORT – On Thursday, Mayor Donna Holaday announced a one-year postponement to the renovations of World War Memorial Stadium – an effort that was promised to make the Clippers athletic facility one of the best of the North Shore.
My initial reaction was a wise chuckle – for many stories over the past year were focused on the specifics of the project. Where will Newburyport play its home games next year? What will the field be like? What will the stadium look like?
Whatever the appearance, it promised to be better than the one now – with the north stands of the football stadium restricted by police tape and slowly crumbling. How could a long awaited project, so anticipated by so many, be further put off?
In fact, while looking through our large database of photographs to find ones of the stadium, I found an image drawn in 2007 – meant to show what renovations were to look like upon completion of a three-step process. While stage one was completed and the south side stands sit brand new, some seven years later we still await its completion. Once my laughter subsided, I began to think back on my times in high school and some of the best moments I had while playing football. I thought of the beautiful turf fields and the gorgeous facilities. I thought of the grass fields perfectly kept and the lights that made a Friday night football game the event of a small town. Then I thought about the away games – the games in the pouring rain played in the mud and the chewed up sod. I remembered hundreds of kids with more school spirit that can be imagined cheering on a team against an out-of-conference opponent.
Then I realized what’s really important – not whether or not something was nice or kept or clean or 100 percent new – but that it was ours: The moment, the field, the passion, the energy. Games played in mud were more memorable than those played on turf and often the worst facilities brought the best fan bases. It might not have been the best stadium – but hell, it was ours.