EASTHAMPTON — In what promises to be a game-changer, the City Council last Wednesday approved $185,000 to purchase and install lights at the White Brook Middle School football field. The money will come from Community Preservation Act funds.
The high-lumen, energy-efficient lighting will let the Easthampton High School Eagles football team hold Friday night games for the first time. School athletic director Patti Dougherty said Easthampton is the only school in its division which does not have a lighted field, meaning all games must now be held on Saturdays.
“We have been moved up a division in our league,” she said. “So we are going to be playing a tougher schedule. Lighting our field goes along with raising the stature of our program.” Dougherty said the field, while primarily for football, could allow for other uses as well.
Fire Chief David Mottor, a longtime supporter of youth athletics, spoke in favor of the project. “I guarantee you the first night those lights come on, the brightest thing on the field will be those football players’ smiles.”
“I just want to thank the City Council, the Community Preservation Committee, the School Committee, and the community,” said Amy Guyette, president of Easthampton Friends of Football.
The boosters’ group in 2014 collaborated with the city to rebuild the football field, which at the time was in such rough shape that its nickname was “the swamp.” The group at the time raised money to supplement a $279,508 CPA appropriation for the project.
The Community Preservation Act committee recommended the lighting project unanimously, as did the Finance Committee, said councilor Daniel Rist, who added that Easthampton Friends of Football has agreed to pay for the yearly maintenance of the lights.
Holding Friday night games “is a little bit more of an event” and lets the high school athletic department raise money to supplement its budget, said Dougherty.