Find Site For New Stadium

In its time, the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District’s Bill Jobko Stadium was quite a showpiece. While fans of many other football teams had to endure inclement weather, those cheering on the Bulldogs could enjoy the roof covering their seats.

But generations of weathering and damage from flooding took their toll. The 100-year-old stadium sustained so much damage that school officials had no choice but to have it razed. That work was in progress this week.

Repairing the existing stadium simply was not feasible, according to an engineering firm. Since the structure was closed in 2017, Bridgeport High School football games have been played in Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville.

Games this fall are scheduled for the Martins Ferry High School field.

So, what to do? School officials have been looking for a site where a new stadium can be constructed. That will not be easy in Bridgeport, which much of the land is subject to flooding on occasion.

Even if a large-enough site is found, there will be a substantial cost to obtain it — along with even more money needed to prepare a playing field and erect bleachers. Clearly, given declining enrollment in the school district, nothing as elaborate as Jobko Stadium can be erected.

There is no rush, thanks to the graciousness of school officials in Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville. But at some point, decisions will have to be made.

One may be whether a new facility should be constructed at all. Why not just continue to play at other school districts’ fields, paying them some compensation for wear and tear?

Could not the money for a new football stadium be spent better to improve academics in Bridgeport schools?

No doubt funds could be put to good use in classrooms. But it takes a community to fund and support a school district — and Jobko Stadium was an integral part of Bridgeport for generations. It was, in essence, a place where, down through the years, tens of thousands of people felt themselves to be a part of the Bridgeport school system, whether they had any direct links to it or not.

In that sense, the football stadium was a key part of the school district community. Some of that feeling of connection would be lost if scheduling games outside the village became permanent.

So yes, school officials should be looking for ways to construct a new football facility, as economically as possible. Here’s hoping that happens in time for the 2020 season.

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