Sarcasm has no place in Naranche Stadium debate

My good buddy Pat Ryan likes to remind me from time to time that people sometimes don’t recognize when I’m being sarcastic, even though it is most of the time.

Usually I just laugh off PR’s reminders because I don’t worry a whole lot about the people who don’t get the joke. I write for those who do.

However, after some careful thought I decided it might be a good idea to put my sarcastic comments in italics when writing about matters of life and death. Like the artificial turf project at Naranche Stadium.

Let me start be rephrasing that. From now on, when I write about monumentally important topics like FieldTurf, I will tip off the readers with italics when I am being sarcastic.

Two weeks ago, I suggested putting fake grass in Naranche Stadium was a bad idea because it might anger the ghosts of players of Naranche’s past who played on dirt, rocks, glass and nails.

While I really do fear an earthquake that will be triggered by players spinning in their graves at the news of artificial turf plans for that hallowed ground, I rarely make major decisions based on potential poltergeist activity. Rarely.

Luckily, the newspaper isn’t delivered to cemeteries. I suppose, though, they could hear the news on if someone drives by the cemetery with the radio turned all the way up.

The school board approved the spending of $700,000 from the buildings fund and the metals mines fund. That sparked a serious, civilized discussion around town and on social media sites the likes we haven’t seen since our rational, level-headed debate about whether Butte High and Butte Central should play a basketball game at the Maroon Activities Center almost a decade ago.

I believe blood was shed over that argument.

Yes, $700,000 is a lot of money to spend on fake grass for a football field that sees five regular-season varsity games each season.

Of course, if you see the amount of work and money spent each year so grass will grow on that field, you will realize that a turf will save money in the long run.

It might take 15 to 20 years before the money saved passes the money spent, but someday it will. Whether you are a Bulldog fan or you think foosball is the devil, you have to admit this purchase makes good financial sense.

Think of it this way. Say you have an old house that leaks heat because it lacks insulation and the single-pane windows are 80 years old.

The cost of insulation, weather stripping and new windows might be painful. Eventually, though, you will get your money back with savings on your power bill. That is, of course, unless the ghosts in the house disapprove of the new windows and your house disappears like at the end of the original Poltergeist movie.

School districts around the country spend money on projects that will save them money every day. As they say, you’ve got to spend money to make money.

Of course, we live in a community that is tighter than Cameron Frey. Remember when we voted down raising our taxes a couple bucks to build a really nice outdoor swimming park for our children?

Now we have to look up to Anaconda and Whitehall — and elevendy billion other towns around the world — when it comes to outside swimming facilities in the summer.

The other day some older ladies distributed fliers around my neighborhood campaigning to end Butte’s new garbage and recycle program. The front and back of the barely-coherent flier listed reasons why Butte people don’t have to recycle.

The flier railed against the cost of doing our part to make sure future generations have a world worth living in. It also said this, and I wish it was in italics:

“We live in Montana with a vast amount of land available for land fill, unlike in some places.”

Yea, who needs to camp, hunt or hike on that land when we can just dump our trash on it?

If you are one of those speaking out against the school district for the turf at Naranche, you are probably, whether you want to be or not, an ally with these gems.

There are other practical reasons for a turf on the field. Did you know that the field on Naranche is hardly used for anything because of the constant effort to grow and maintain grass?

The stadium is basically only used on game day.

A turf would benefit the soccer and softball teams as well as the physical education classes. It could be used at times by the Little Guy Football program. It could be used for so many things.

Also, it would be so much safer for the players.

A nice, cushy artificial turf is far less likely to give your child or grandchild a concussion than a frozen field made up partially of grass. It is also safer for their knees and ankles.

But Naranche should have never been renovated in the first place, you say. Butte High had a perfectly good stadium at East Middle School.

That is a fine point. I might agree with you had I never been to Naranche Stadium for a Butte High football game since it opened again in the 2011 season.

Naranche is the best high school stadium in the state without question. If you want to believe me, then maybe you’ll believe The Billings Gazette, which declared it Montana’s finest last August.

The nostalgia of being in the legendary stadium is great, plus it is a tremendous home-field advantage.

I believe without a doubt that Butte High would not have won the Class AA State championship if their home field was still at Bulldog Memorial Stadium, where the stands are so far away it is like playing on a neutral field.

The crowd noise — and perhaps some ghosts — at Naranche helped in that magical run to break the Curse of Shawn Galletti. Would the Bulldogs overcome a 20-0 deficit to beat Helena Capital at East? Would they have held on for dear life to beat CMR in the semis had the game been played elsewhere?

Would Jake Dennehy made that long kick with a crosswind to beat Bozeman?

Maybe, but maybe not.

Whether you like it or not, Naranche Stadium is here to stay. Not liking that fact is no reason to avoid the obvious benefits of moving to turf. You’re only hurting yourself — and every taxpayer in town — if you fight it.

You’d have to think even Eso Naranche himself would be in favor of turf at his namesake.

Actually, the only acceptable reason to oppose the turf project is because you honestly belief the ghosts of Naranche past are a bunch of jerks.


— Bill Foley, who doesn’t trust anybody over the age of 12 who believes in ghosts, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 4 comments

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  • JoAnne
    June 9, 2015, 7:28 am

    The crazies, just like the recycle flyer distributors, will never agree. Nor will they be interested in logic or fact. It’s funny how people can be presented with mathematical proof and probability yet their own blasted ideas will trump reason. Oh well. But I sure wish you had added a copy of the flier. Good chuckle for my morning.

  • Ol' Pahv
    June 9, 2015, 3:03 pm

    Seriously? Elevendy billion other towns have outdoor swimming facilities?

  • Bill Foley
    June 9, 2015, 3:13 pm

    I’m just stating the facts, Pahv.

  • Daniel Peters
    June 9, 2015, 10:08 pm

    Fun fact, artificial turf costs more in the long run.
    From http://turf.uark.edu/turfhelp/archives/021109.html

    “In a 16-year scenario, Fresenburg came up with an annual average cost for each field type as follows: the natural soil-based field, $33,522; the sand-cap grass field, $49,318; the basic synthetic field, $65,846; and the premium synthetic field, $109,013”

    And, replacing the turf (which has to take place once every 8-10 years) costs over $130,000.

    Food for thought.


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