By KEVIN WEAKS
Donna Garland feels that, in about two months, she will be an expert in football field lighting.
The Fulton City High School principal will be looking closely into that area of expertise over the next several weeks as the school makes arrangements to fix the wiring at historic Memorial Stadium.
“It’s a wiring problem,” Garland said in a telephone interview with The Messenger on Thursday. “It’s not really safe to turn on the lights. We could probably turn them on, and the lights would come on. But then something could blow, and we’d be in the dark.”
She does point out that the lighting problem will be fixed but indicated that it will not be an overnight repair.
“Even if we were able to get someone in here tomorrow, it could not be done in time for football season,” she said. “It’s not a situation where we can just call an electrician and get it fixed.”
So, with Football Friday Night at Memorial no longer an option, Garland found her solution just across the state line.
Another football field with a long and storied history will see high school gridiron return for the first time in nearly a decade when South Fulton Athletic Field is put to use for at least three Bulldog games this season.
Fulton will play at the former home of the Red Devils on Aug. 17 against Scotts Hill, Aug. 31 against Jackson Prep and Sept. 28 against Mayfield.
Prep football was last played at the old stadium in 2004. The Red Devils moved into a new on-campus facility in time for the 2005 season.
The Bulldogs are slated to be the home team for the annual crosstown showdown with South Fulton on Sept. 7, and Garland said she will be in contact with SFHS principal Keith Frazier soon to work out the details for that game.
Garland worked with the board that runs the South Fulton youth football league on the option to move the three Bulldog games.
“They were very cordial, and we’re extremely appreciative,” Garland said. “We’ve always had a good relationship with South Fulton.”
The youth league, which leases the field from the city, will get $225 per game, and Fulton will provide game night workers and keep all gate and concession receipts.
Garland said moving the games to South Fulton was the best option.
The idea of playing the games on Saturday afternoons at Memorial, she pointed out, would have brought the heat index issue into the equation, especially for the two August kickoffs.
Considering the likelihood of hot weather with high humidity, and the KHSAA’s strict rules about not playing when the heat index reaches a certain level, afternoon football was simply not a good option.
Re-wiring the lights at Memorial Stadium is still in the planning stages now, and a lot of factors will be involved — including, of course, finding the best price — before work can begin.
“This is a large job,” Garland said. “We’re going to get through it, but it’s just going to take some time.”
Published in The Messenger 7.13.12