Monarch Stadium Is Open for Business

Soccer to play tonight followed by football on Friday night

Photos by Shawn Rine Monarch Stadium is nearly complete as football and soccer season approaches. Bottom right: John Marshall Athletics Director Rob Chavanak, left, and new coach Jason Willis are ready for football to be played Friday night against University. Game time is 7 p.m.

MOUNDSVILLE — Rumors and innuendo have been spreading like wildfire. John Marshall Athletics Director Rob Chavanak put them to rest Wednesday.

Though construction is ongoing, Monarch Stadium is open for business, beginning today. That’s when the Monarchs girls’ soccer team welcomes Magnolia to town for what will be the first contest on the new surface.

The big test, however, comes a night later when John Marshall welcomes University at 7 p.m. for the 2018 football opener. A large crowd is expected inside what will be a state-of-the-art facility. Since Phase 1 of the project hasn’t been completed as timely as anyone would have liked, Chavank and other school officials wanted to clear the air.

”For about two weeks straight I’ve been continuously nervous waking up in the middle of the night thinking about this and different scenarios,” Chavanak said. ”Obviously it’s changing down here every day with what’s getting done, access points of getting in and how we’re going to park buses and things like that.

”We’re going to be ready for Friday night. It will all come together.”

That wasn’t always a guarantee. The company handling the lighting hit a natural spring under the field, which has delayed that part of the project considerably. As of Wednesday the light stanchions were not in the ground, and they won’t be prior to kickoff. Musco Sports Lighting will be providing temporary lights at no cost to taxpayers, according to Marshall County Schools Communications Coordinator Tony Wood.

”We considered moving it to Saturday and I thought we could have it at a different facility,” Chavank said. Marshall County Schools Superintendent ”Dr. Crook said that we could play here either Friday or Saturday and we want to stick with Friday night, which is the typical night of high school football.

”Obviously the product on the field is going to be good. We invite everyone to come down, walk around and give yourself plenty of time to get into the stadium.”

Parking will be at a premium. There are limited spaces available behind Moundsville Middle School, some that are handicap accessible. Those spaces, which can begin being filled at 5:30 p.m., will be $5 and are going on a first-come, first-serve basis.

”We’re also running free shuttles from the Marshall County Fairgrounds, where you can park for free,” Chavanak said. ”We have four different school buses — one that is handicap accessible — running continuously from 5:30 until a little bit after kickoff.

”Then they will start again a little bit before the end of the game and will run until everyone is gone.”

Only one side of the bleachers will be completed this season, with the majority of the seating under the heading of general admission. The only ”reserved” spots are for the Marching Monarchs Band, which will occupy the first section of the north end of the stands. The student section will be seated beside it, with room being available behind each group.

All guests must enter the grandstands at the north end of the stadium.

Temporary concession stands and restrooms will be on-site. The restroom trailers are air conditioned and unlike portajohns, feature flushable commodes.

”There’s a lot of excitement with the upgrade to the stadium,” Chavanak said. ”The athletes, of course, are super pumped.

”With it not being done yet there has been maybe a little bit of backlash, but the majority from the community has been very positive.”

As far as the completion of Phase 1 is concerned, Chavanak said it won’t be long. The track is scheduled to be down ”sometime in September” and ground is scheduled to be broken next week for restrooms and concessions. The pressbox should be completed by the end of September or early October.

”It’s great for Marshall County, not just football,” Chavanak said. ”We’re going to have soccer down here and lacrosse, and we’ve got it set up where softball and baseball can practice when it’s real wet.

”We can start hosting major events down here. I could see us hosting big soccer matches and big track meets again with the eight-lane track and the nice timing system.

”The ugrades make this a lot better than what we grew up with watching and playing in the early ’80s and the ’90s, and even up to the present.”

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