The school district and the Jewish Community Center have begun negotiations related to improving facilities located at the JCC with the intention of allowing Bexley athletics to use these facilities.
The Bexley Board of Education authorized these discussions with the JCC at their Jan. 11 meeting.
Athletic Director Eli Goldberger said that developing new facilities for the high school’s athletes has been a high priority.
“We have been looking to improve our off-site facilities for our teams for years,” Goldberger said.
He explained that the existing facilities at the JCC would be rebuilt with turf, and the renovated facilities would replace current off-campus practice locations.
“The project would replace the need for Wolfe Park and Clowson Field,” he said. “Teams that currently utilize those facilities could now have an updated turf field to practice and play on.”
The cost of turfing the JCC facilities is still unknown, Goldberger said. “The architects will give us proposals and costs when we get to that point, but we have not had a formal proposal yet,” he added.
Dr. Harley Williams, Director of Facilities and Operations, explained that in addition to adding turf at the JCC, new tennis courts and lights would be added as well. He said that the hope is for the renovations to be completed by the spring of 2023, but it may take until the fall.
The high school plans to host games for the junior varsity level sports teams including soccer, lacrosse and field hockey at the JCC. The renovated JCC baseball fields would replace Clowson Field permanently for practices and games, he added.
Varsity teams would continue to play their games at Carlton Smith Field, Williams said. He added that the new facilities would allow practice times to be more convenient for athletes by making them earlier in the day.
“We can get our kids right after school, get them practiced and hopefully get them home in time to have dinner with their families,” Williams said. Late practice times have been an issue for Bexley’s student athletes because they present problems with getting home safely, Williams explained.
Williams said the facilities would eliminate this obstacle as the practice times would be earlier.
Junior Michael Brenner, a varsity soccer and baseball player, said he has high hopes for the new facilities.
“I think the new baseball field will be a large improvement from our past field and helpful for our program,” Brenner said.
Goldberger said the new facilities would be more consistent compared to others such as Wolfe Park and Clowson Field, enhancing student athletes’ experiences.
“Currently, we lose many practice days at Wolfe Park due to the fields being unplayable when it rains,” Goldberger said.
Brenner said conditions at Clowson Field are far from perfect.
“Having access to a new baseball field would be amazing,” he said. “In bad conditions, our current field is miserable.”
Despite the benefits of using the JCC for school sports, because it is not close to the school, students have no way to access the facilities easily. Williams explained that they are investigating transportation ideas that would allow for students to be easily moved to the facilities.
The JCC facilities would not be accessible at all times to students, Williams added. However, he explained that with the current plan, Bexley would have number one priority for decided practice times.
“It would only be during the time that we have leased,” Williams explained. “We won’t have 24/7 access. I think we would have first priority.”