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After decades, Lincoln Prep finally getting its own $3.4 million football field

January 10, 2019
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As seen in The Kansas City Star, by Mara Rose Williams. (Jan 09,2019)

The Kansas City school board agreed Wednesday to fund a new competitive football field for Lincoln Preparatory Academy, the only high school in the district that cannot host games.

The high school’s field is too small and isn’t up to par for practice or official play. Alumni had said that when they were at Lincoln 20 years ago, the field was mostly dirt surrounded by broken concrete — and it hasn’t changed since.

Last July, the district broke ground for a new field at Lincoln that could be used for practice, at a cost of $1.5 million. But on Wednesday the board voted to spend more than double that — $3.4 million — so the field would meet state football competition standards.

The district has been wanting to put in new turf, scoreboards, a press box, field lighting and more seating in the bleachers. The track is currently paved and can’t be used for practice or competition. The plan was to resurface it with rubber.

Wednesday’s audience erupted into cheers and applause when board President Melissa Robinson announced approval of the upgraded field.

Edrico Gilliam, 16, attended because, he said, “I wanted to make sure that we were going to get our field.

“It will be awesome to play on our own turf,” said Edrico, a wide receiver who will play as a senior next year.

“It’s going to be fun,” said sophomore Jermaine Hamilton, a linebacker. “I’m looking forward to seeing more fans at the game.”

The board had considered the competition field at its last meeting in December but put it on hold to study the plan, said Superintendent Mark Bedell. “It was never about the money,” Bedell said.

He said the district found the money to cover the extra costs. Part of it came through donations.

Last June, Lincoln Prep alum and Miami Dolphin defensive end Charles Harris donated $100,000 toward the renovation. At the time, he said, it was about “giving back to my roots that got me here. When you make it, you are supposed to give back.”

The district has also received other contributions, including a $250,000 grant from the NFL through the Local Initiative Support Corp. of Kansas City.

“Our central city deserves to have pride and to bring pride back to our athletics,” Robinson said. “This is something that does that.”

Paying for a new field for Lincoln, she said, “is an issue of parity.”

The new field is expected to be completed in time for the Lincoln Blue Tigers to begin practice in August.

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