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Centennial High celebrates game-changing athletics upgrades
By Christopher Keizur,
Move over Drake Stadium, there is a new premiere blue track wowing sports fans, and its right here in East Multnomah County.
Centennial High School had a ribbon cutting for the amazing first phase of updates to its athletics facilities Friday evening, Sept. 22, before the football team kicked off against Hillsboro and students celebrated homecoming.
The Eagles now have a new turf field; improvements to the historic grandstands, parking lot, restrooms and locker rooms; and that striking powder blue track.
“These upgrades are literally a game-changer for our students,” said Principal Marin Miller. “Look at this beautiful field, all the upgrades around us. We finally got this done.”
Upgrades to Centennial’s athletic facilities had been a longtime coming. Conversations around turf fields and stadium improvements began in earnest back in 2012, though there are memos floating the idea more than two decades ago. Most of the work was done without the need for a bond, using the Board Reserve Fund. Only the track update pulled dollars from the 2020 School Bond.
“It is a great time to be in the Centennial School District,” said Superintendent James Owens.
Phase One of Centennial’s sweeping athletic facility updates broke ground last spring, and was completed in time for the 2023 season.
Phase Two will bring a new all-purpose field to the southeast of the stadium, and Phase Three will be needed updates to the baseball and softball fields — though the popularity of the football field may spur leadership to flip those in order to support the spring sports.
“These updates benefit our students tremendously,” Miller said.
For Phase One, it wasn’t just updated looks. The new surfaces will improve both athletic performance and safety. The all-weather turf football field is a must in rainy Oregon, as is the improved track and field amenities. The 60-year-old grandstands were seismically retrofitted, parking and sidewalks were added for visitors, a separate lot was constructed for buses, and all of it was better branded to celebrate the Eagles.
“Centennial High School was one of the only in the region without a turf field,” Owens said. “We are finally moving forward.”
The Centennial High School Athletic Facility Update was done by R&C Management Group LLC, Emerick Construction Co., and Robertson Engineering PC. The Army National Guard also helped, setting up a base camp on-site over the summer to remove dirt out on 174th Avenue during the installation of the turf field. In total, more than 8,500 cubic yards of grass and top soil were removed, and the National Guard support saved the school district $100,000 in expenses.