The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

September 13, 2013

Big changes outside Spartans’ stadium

CONNEAUT — A long-closed Conneaut industry will provide some parking relief this fall for people attending Conneaut High School football games.

Starting with tonight’s home opener against Geneva, people heading to the CHS stadium on Maple Avenue will have use of the industry’s old parking lot. The lot can be found on the west end of the plant property a few steps down the street from the stadium gates.

The industry was pressed into service because the stadium’s usual parking lot — a big, grassy field across the street — is being transformed into the Conneaut school district’s track/field facility. Earlier this summer, Kent Houston, Conneaut Area City Schools superintendent, said he was in talks with GE for the use of the lot for the Spartans’ 2013 home games.

More parking spots were lost earlier this year when city administrators, at the request of school officials, banned parking on both sides of Stadium Avenue. Previously, vehicles lined both sides of the street on game days. Officials said the old arrangement was a potential safety hazard.

Fans are also welcome to park on side streets that surround the football field, school officials have said.

Dawn Zappitelli, CHS principal said she hopes people take advantage of GE’s generosity because “parking is so limited.”

Other changes — including two large tents — will greet fans this evening. The old Eighmy Corporation building across the street from the stadium was razed this summer as part of the track/field project. The building had served as a makeshift locker room for the football teams since Municipal Stadium was demolished a few years ago. This season, teams will strategize under tents that will be pitched nearby, Zappitelli said.

Also, a new multi-purpose building is being constructed inside the fence on the southeast end of the field. The work, to be completed next month, should not interfere with fans’ access to seats, Zappitelli said.

“(The building) is in a contained area,” she said.

The Spartans’ home season kicks off with a school staff appreciation event aimed at filling the stands with district employees. “Quite a few people will be there,” Zappitelli said.

The district will also debut its Spartan of the Week program, which awards preferred seats to families from each school building.

CHS (1-1) hosts five teams this season: Geneva (tonight), Ledgemont (Sept. 20), Pymatuning Valley (Sept. 27), Gilmour Academy (Oct. 11 Homecoming game) and Edgewood (Nov. 1).

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