A special meeting was held before the regularly scheduled school board meeting, on Monday, in order to discuss the Webster Parish School Board (WPSB) potentially gaining some form of ownership over Griffith Stadium, where Minden High School plays baseball.
Minden High School Principal Becky Wilson, Athletic Director Dean Francis, and Minden High School’s Head Baseball Coach Ben Bower were in attendance to help shed some light on why they think it’s important for the WPSB to have some form of ownership over Griffith Stadium.
Griffith Stadium is currently owned by the City of Minden. It has been in need of repairs for quite some time, but due to the fact that the City of Minden owns the property and not the WPSB, they can’t approve any funding in order to facilitate the much-needed repairs.
“In the 2018-2019 school year, Minden High School, through the Baseball Team and Batter Up Club, put over $12,000 dollars into Griffith Stadium,” Wilson said.
She went on to say that the money went towards basic upkeep, maintenance, and repair. All the money was raised through the baseball team’s fundraising efforts.
Bower went into specific details about the $12,000 dollars in expenditures. “The costs for the cable, piping, and the net. The outfield wall was repainted, the dugouts were repainted, and some welding work and the pipe associated with that and the list goes on,” said Bower.
“The city is very good to us for letting us have a place to play, but the work and the reason that it looks the way it looks is because of the work that my kids and the coaches put in,” he said. When asked by the School Board how much the City of Minden has contributed to these repairs in the last 5 years, Bower responded, “I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you the average for the past two years… zero.”
Francis elaborated on why funding for the stadium had been cut.
“Back when I was there, you had three teams that were actually playing at the stadium at that particular time, Red Birds, Legion, and Minden High School,” Francis said. “So the city felt like there was an obligation to [the American] Legion to keep the field up because you had so many teams playing on the field. So when Legion and the Redbirds disbanded, that left only Minden High School. So what that means is that they felt that their option was to do away with Griffith altogether and send us to the Rec Center. We just can’t play out there, it’s just not a facility suited for High School Baseball.”
Without funding from either the city nor the school board, Francis said they have been forced to come up with creative ways to meet the need.
“What it boils down to with me, right now I have no option. If something goes wrong, I’m gonna figure out a way to fix it, and it’s gonna come at the cost of somebody’s kid selling a raffle ticket, or a dinner plate, or whatever it may be,” Francis said.
“Right now my kids don’t have an option. I don’t like asking my kids to sell a raffle ticket to buy chain link. I just don’t, but thank God I have a good group of parents, great kids, and they do the fundraising.”
Webster Parish Superintendent of Schools Johnny Rowland told the school board the stadium has a storied history for Minden High School. “On a sentimental note, I always loved playing there, it’s still to me just a good baseball atmosphere venue,” he said. “Not to jump off track here but in 1982 Minden High won the state championship on the field. Minden High School defeated Catholic High School in the bottom of the seventh. Kenny Whitfield hit a home run to win the state championship in Griffith Stadium.”
The School Board took no official action, but indicated they may pursue some form of ownership of the stadium.
“I want my kids to have something nice. They work hard, and they deserve a nice field to play on,” said Bower.