NEWPORT, Ky. — The mid-March inspection of Newport Stadium came back with a result not surprising for concrete stands that are more than 80 years old.
“We’ve always known that there was going to come a time where we need to replace it,” said Tony Watts, Newport Independent Schools Superintendent. “It doesn’t make sense to continue to keep putting Band-Aids on things every year putting more and more money into it.”
The turf field and track are still usable and Newport football, baseball and track & field teams are able to practice there. However, Superintendent Watts, Newport Athletic Director Brad Wolfzorn, and Newport Central Catholic Athletic Director Jeff Schulkens said that there will not be games at Newport Stadium until the new stands and press box are completed.
Newport Central Catholic football also uses the stadium for home games.
The cut-off is the fence line near the stands.
“We just take the advice of people we’re working with and try to do what’s best for the school and the district,” Watts said. “We didn’t want someone getting hurt in the stands, something crumbling or tripping on a piece of concrete that’s sticking out.”
The stadium was dedicated on September 22, 1939 after being built as part of the Depression-era Work Projects Administration (WPA).
It has been home to the Wildcats’ football program ever since. New Cath rents the field from Newport.
Current capacity at the stadium is 2,900.
Watts said that the school district is working with architects on a cost estimate and design possibilities. More information is expected to be shared later about that.
In the meantime, Wolfzorn said that Newport has been in talks with Holmes in Covington about using the Bulldogs’ stadium for home football games this fall.
“If something happens to where they can move the stands and before construction begins, we can somehow play on the field, it’s a possibility,” Wolfzorn said. “But we’re planning on not being there for the forseeable future.”
As for New Cath, Schulkens said the Throughbreds have three football games scheduled at Covington Catholic and one at Thomas More University. He is still searching for a site for one more game. Schulkens said a few games are scheduled for Thursdays because of the shortage of officials.
“I noticed last year walking up to the press box and things that they need work,” Schulkens said. “It’s nice they’re doing it and it will be nice when they get finished.”
Wolfzorn and Schulkens agreed it will be different for players if football games can’t take place at Newport Stadium this fall.
“I think they understand,” Wolfzorn said. “But still, they’re kids and they’re thinking of playing Friday Night games at home and having Senior Night. They want that at home. Especially for the guys that are going to be seniors knowing that it’s going to be their senior year and they’ve been through a lot with the way school has been the last few years to begin with.”
Superintendent Watts encouraged people to look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel when the stands are complete.
The New Cath football team is not the only the only Thoroughbreds team that had to look for an alternative site for games in 2022. The school’s baseball teams play home games at Newport Stadium as opposed to Morcher Field in Silver Grove where they had played a number of years.
“Morscher is a dangerous field due to being on top of the old Fort Thomas dump,” said Jeff Martin, New Cath head baseball coach. “The ground continues to settle making an unlevel playing field.”
The New Cath soccer teams have held home games behind that field for a while. Schulkens and New Cath head girls soccer coach Hillary Johnson said that won’t change this fall.
Correction: A previous version of this story reported that Newport Central Catholic is raising funds for an on-campus stadium, but we were later told by the school that that is not the case. LINK nky regrets the error.