Social and Political Commentary

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The T. Boone Pickens Melrose Red Raiders

... would we have a new athletic field complex if it required the football team, instead of the
track team, to be shipped to Pine Banks?

by Joe Sullivan

Malden-Melrose running track at Pine Banks Park.

T. Boone Pickens, as Wikipedia describes him, is the founder of the Mesa Petroleum Company and
a Texas oil man. It is almost unnecessary to say that T. Boone is very rich. He is also an
alumnus of Oklahoma State University, home to the Oklahoma State Cowboys a perennial college
football powerhouse.

Pickens made history when he donated $165 million to the OSU athletic program. Itís the largest
single donation for athletics ever made to a university. The money was not meant to be limited
to football but to the creation of an athletic village. The village also would involve soccer,
track, tennis, an equestrian center, and new baseball field.

A huge upgrade was made to the football stadium, too, and at halftime celebration at one of the
games in 2003 the stadium was renamed Boone Pickens Stadium. Previous to getting its new name
the stadium had been known as Lewis Field. This Lewis was Laymon Lowery Lewis who had been an
academic dean in 1914 back when OSUís name was Oklahoma A&M. Apparently dean Lewis was highly
thought of by the student body, they dedicated the schoolís first-ever year book to him.

Dean Lewis was not relegated to nowhere when the stadium received its new Pickensí name in
2003. The field surface, now made of  the latest synthetic grass, would retain his name and
become Dean Lewis Field. A comedown for sure, but a compromise of sorts.

A Dean Lewis deal for our Melrose High track team.

What happened to Dean Lewis is an almost perfect metaphor for what happened to our Melrose High
track team. In the transformation of the Melrose High ball fields into the state-of-the art
athletic field complex the track team was moved to Pine Banks. The team would have a beautiful
new field, but its members would no longer compete in a stadium like the football, baseball,
soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey teams would. Those teams' parents would watch them from the
new grandstands at the High School fields..

With no viewing grandstands to watch the track meets, what the track team has is what is
undoubtedly the most fantastic practice field in high school sports. Without grandstands itís
like a Cadillac with no power steering.

Team members will miss the shower facilities and rest rooms, too. Those things are part of the
new complex at the high school field but were not included in the plans for the running track.

Feasibility Study posted on internet.

You can read the reasons for the relocation of the running track by accessing the City of
Melrose Melrose High School Athletic Complex Feasibility Study on the internet. This might
cause some confusion since the date posted on the front page is November 2010. The date the
mayor presented the plans for the new complex to the Aldermen and the day they voted to approve
it was October 3 almost a month before the Study was published.  

The dating inconsistencies seem to bear out the contention that city officials knew what the plans were long before the public did. This plan excluded the viewing-stand capability that the track team had at the old High School location. The slam-dunk approval process of this plan enabled the city to eliminate anyone who would object to or even question it.

Would this relocation been possible if the feasibility plan provided for all the benefits
offered by the new athletic field complex except that, instead of moving the track team to
Pine Banks, it required the football team to move to Pine Banks?

What would happen if Melrose High School football enthusiasts woke up on Wednesday morning to find out that
their football team had been moved out of the High School field to Pine Banks where there would
be no grandstands from where they could see the team play? A location that would offer no
shower facilities for the players or no restrooms for the spectators?

For some people the answer is obvious. Despite the benefits any proposal might provide or how
critical the need for whatís being proposed Aldermen wonít vote for anything that may have bad
consequences for them. They do not want to be perceived as antagonistic or indifferent to the
members of a large activist organization that has a special interest. Instead of opposing it
they are more likely to become members.  

Joe Sullivan is a member of the Mount Hood golf community.

February 1,2013    


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