OPINION

Bengtson Editorial: Support the school district's athletic complex project

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    It all comes back to the question of what is best for the community? While it is still a ways away, and was only recently approved to move forward for a referendum, a Pirate athletic complex has been on people’s minds for a while. In August 2022, when the Crookston School District asks taxpayers to help them construct a new complex for multiple sports and activities including football and track, you’ll have to consider your options. Well, really, there are only two options: Yes or No.

    If you say Yes, you’ll be saying Yes to future Pirate athletes who would have the chance to compete in their own back yard and not far away or at a leased space. They’ll get the chance to invite their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends to watch them make memories with their teammates and have extra pride after a success. Plus, they won’t have to take a bus for a “home” game/match/meet.

    If you say Yes, you’ll provide opportunities for those who currently travel to see sporting events and help improve the local economy. When those out-of-town relatives and friends come to a game or an event at the new complex they will likely want to eat at a Crookston restaurant and gas up at a Crookston convenience store. They might even want to spend the night at a Crookston hotel if it’s a two-day or more event.

    If you say Yes, a new turf field will allow football, soccer, baseball, softball and other sports the ability to practice and/or compete even in the rain without the worry of a messy muddy grass field and the potential for additional risk of injury due to those conditions. It will also allow physical education classes the option to be outdoors and other school activities and events to be held on the turf. Graduation outside on the turf field if it’s a nice day? Absolutely.

    (Are you starting to see the pattern here?)

    If you say Yes, the Pirates track and field program will finally have their own 8-lane track where they can hold meets and sections after many years of missed opportunities due to the condition of the track at the university where they used to compete. Not only did the track athletes miss out on those years of opportunities, but the local economy did as well from not bringing in those schools, athletes and fans from out of town for those events.

    If you say Yes, you could help provide yet another project opportunity for high school trades students who may construct the ticket booth, concessions stand and bathroom building. After those large meaningful projects are complete, students often come back to show their families some of the work they did and reminisce about the time they spent working with their peers and teacher. Plus, a student-led project like that would show the district’s commitment and display Pirate Pride like no other.

    Now, if you say No, you’re more than likely thinking about the money you, as a taxpayer, will have to “shell out” for the project. In all reality, the impact it will have is not high; it’s not a shock to the system like some projects can be. In fact, Crookston School Board members were recently provided with a tax impact spreadsheet and for a $150,000 residential homestead the impact is an estimated $23 change in annual taxes from 2022 to 2023. What can $23 get you? One trip to the movies depending on your concessions choice, half a tank of gas if you’re lucky, two cases of brand name soda or one case of beer.

    Are there more pros than cons when it comes to the potential impact this new athletic complex could have on the community? It seems so. Do we want what’s best for the community? Absolutely. Do you need more information about the project before making your decision in August 2022? We are almost certain you’ll get your questions answered in the coming months.

Jess Bengtson