Town Square

Post a New Topic

Night games at M-A? Boosters enthusiastic, neighbors wary

Original post made on Nov 24, 2009

A recent football game between Menlo-Atherton High School and Sacred Heart Prep created a sensation in M-A's school community and concern in M-A's immediate neighborhood.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 24, 2009, 11:06 AM

Comments (16)

Posted by WP
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Nov 24, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Playing high school under "Friday Night Lights" is a thrill for high school football players and great fun for students, parents and boosters. There would be some crowd noise but the school and spirit benefits far outweigh the inconvenience to a small number of homeowners. The number of nights would also be very small -- maybe a half a dozen or so per year. Our children will attend M-A in a few years and it would be great if they could enjoy the fun atmosphere Friday night high school football.

Posted by incredulous
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Hmmm, let's see. Being thrilled by playing a night game versus the safety and peace of surrounding neighborhoods filled with families who have young children? Are you kidding?? My high school played all its games in the afternoon and no one felt deprived -- it was fun and packed with supporters. Of course, that was in the days when the rights of the majority prevailed and we had a better sense of balance about what was appropriate for our children. The only night games I know of now are played by professional athletes who want the games to be carried on television. Get real and teach students that it's just not OK to disturb the peace for their entertainment purposes. Jeesh.

Posted by parent
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 24, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Well if MA is allowed to have lights for night games, the other High Schools in Atherton should be allowed to install lights as well. As it stands right now, Sacred Heart and Menlo are not allowed to have night games because of the lighting issues. These two schools play their annual Valpo Bowl at Woodside High (except for this year due to a scheduling problem) in order to stage a night time event.

Posted by Henry Riggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 24, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Is Sequoia going to prevent school parking in the bike lanes on Ringwood? So far, biking or walking past school grounds (at Laurel as well) remains just plain dangerous when the mob of SUVs take over twice a day. How about we solve that first?

Posted by An Atherton Resident and Parent
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 24, 2009 at 2:18 pm

It is amazing to see the self serving comments like the one above from "incredulous" as someone who "bought next to a school". Hmmmmm. Economic benefit to buying near a school, yes, and that is likely why they bought there.

The schools in Atherton are a resource for "everyone" to use. They serve not only the students but also the community at large both for sports, eduction, theatre and other general recreational uses. To have the neighbors who "chose" to buy a home near a school lobby as the vocal minority for something that benefits them only and not the general public is truly what should be noted as "incredulous".

I commend the School Board for their support of our school and hope the lights become a reality sooner than later. Good luck Susan and good work for the community.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Nov 24, 2009 at 3:01 pm

The comment above about the Valpo Bowl is a perfect example of the problem to expect. I live near Woodside High, and it's not the high school's games that are the problem, it's all the other uses of the field now that it's artificial turf and lit.

For instance, last weekend there was some series of youth football games, with loud crowds, starting at 8am and finishing at 8pm both Saturday AND Sunday. So the neighborhood around the school got to enjoy a full 24 hours of crowd noise over the weekend.

M-A neighbors should expect the same thing.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 24, 2009 at 3:14 pm

All of these schools pre-date most of the homes and probably ALL of the homeowners by many years. In the case of Sacred Heart the school has been there since the 1890s. Surely, all of you folks who live near MA, Woodside, etc. were aware that buying a home near a school has disadvantages as well as advantages.

If you wanted home free from school noise, you should have purchased in a different neighborhood of Menlo, Atherton or Woodside!

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Nov 24, 2009 at 3:41 pm

At least in my case, our house and a number of our neighbor's houses pre-date Woodside High School by a good 20 years or more. Woodside High is 50 years old, a LOT of the surrounding houses were built well before WWII.

And again, the issue is not the school's activities. It's the 3rd party activities. There is a huge difference between a grass field used occasionally during the day for school events (the historical approach at Woodside, M-A, etc) and a lit artificial turf field rented out for 12 hours a day every day school is out and most evenings as well.

Posted by stunned
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 24, 2009 at 3:46 pm

So kids should not be allowed to use the public school grounds during the weekends, because they are noisy? Perhaps the same noise ordinance that concerns air blowers can be applied, but if we're really worried about noise how about those horrid airplanes that fly over. Where do you think your rights to peace and quiet end?

As for invading your neighborhood? Who made the decision to move in next to the high school??

The school district is considering starting the school day later for 65% of the students. This might be good for neighborhood traffic and students' need for sleep, but it will push sports into the later afternoon. M-A will need lights on all it's fields soon enough. Grow up. Palo Alto finally had to give in to Stanford. Come over and enjoy the fun!

Supervision. With more parents able to attend there are actually probably more adults around.

As for field lighting, Sequoia has had lights forever. Woodside has now had them for years. I'm not sure why M-A should be compared to any of the local private schools.

As for making money, isn't that the American way? Won't that help to keep the schools from asking YOU for more money?

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Nov 24, 2009 at 4:37 pm

I think you're vastly misinterpreting my comments. I'm not opposed to schools being schools, kids using the fields, etc. and I've certainly never used the word "invading" or anything like that.

Woodside H-S is a good neighbor, and I'm happy to have a school nearby as opposed to an industrial park, factory, etc. But I do think that sometimes the NON-SCHOOL uses of these newly built and upgraded facilities can get a bit out of hand. Living near a school should mean living near a school, not living near Shoreline Ampitheater or the Cow Palace.

A few years ago there was an all-day, until midnight outside fundraising concert at Woodside H-S that drew somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 people and lasted until the police broke it up. THAT is not appropriate for a school in a residential area, in my opinion, and to their credit the school agreed, apologized, and something of that scale hasn't happened again.

Posted by Lennox
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 24, 2009 at 6:39 pm

I have a child currently at M-A as a Junior and one that has already graduated. I asked the Junior what she thought of having lights at M-A. Her response was,"I would actually go to more games to watch." She said that she is usually doing her own school activity while the game is going on. I see this as a real disconnect of the High School experience. Everyone is involved in their HS activities therefore they can't even support their classmates and possibly watch history in the making. Not the kind of school spirit that the Basketball team gets because it is played indoors at night.

On the other hand, when the school district tried putting in a U-19 soccer field at Encinal Elementary because they were going to get some big cash $600k for the project, it just didn't make sense to have an adult game going on over the weekends and during after schools hours at a K-5 school. The school property was not being used for the benefit of the age appropriateness of the student body. Of course, safety issues were a big concern with young children.

As for M-A, money is a large issue as well in the case of M-A athletics. Having attended a high school that had premier athletic programs the school spirit was huge and the academic excellence continued to improve as well. In addition, It was the football team and the basketball team receipts that funded the non revenue sports. The kids prided themselves in being from the school and locally businesses supported the school immensely. Those are some of the benefits of Friday night games. On the other side of it is the rivalries misbehavior. The event draws the people and the game becomes a stage for the performers. This is a time for them to draw attention to themselves on a grand stage and be remembered for the rest of their lives from that student body. Just like streaking was in the 70's. Yes, it did happen... in Michigan cold... and I still remember. Ok, like I said, safety could be a problem, with gangs deciding to meet at the game to rumble, drugs to be bought and sold in the mass confusion of a sporting event, alcohol before, during or after. These things do happen supervised events or unsupervised. It does allow the HS age group to prepare for their stage performance. Lets face it this was a time when we all got excited to cheer on the team and mingle with the opposite sex, talk about what people are doing afterward and so on.(This is not a reason not to have a game at night). Unfortunately, not all kids are mature enough to make wise decisions about who they are friends with and then we must consider the innocent bystander caught in the midst of a bad situation.

We as a community can make it a better event and a better experience for all. Lets work through it.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 24, 2009 at 7:27 pm

from all accounts the MA-SHP was a well-attended event and there were no behavior problems. Maybe that is because more parents can attend a game that occurs at night. Look, many of us grew up with Friday night football games in other parts of the country. They are great community builders - students, parents, faculty, etc. all are able to attend. It's a real shame that kids in our area are denied this experience. I say put the lights in and let the community enjoy HS football together.

Posted by Joe Bloggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 24, 2009 at 8:34 pm

You have to think that if M-A's neighbors and M-A/SUHSD administrators get together and talk about the real issues, they can reach a mutually acceptable solution. If they try. The District can of course just do what it wants, but that rarely leads to a good outcome.

I believe that if lights are installed, but the usage is limited to real high school sports events, it could be tolerable to neighbors and would achieve the benefits cited by contributors above.

What if lights aren't installed? I'm thinking the kids and community will be just fine. Woodside, Carlmont, and M-A have gone nearly 50 years without lights on their football fields. And the kids were alright. Now our local schools have state of the art performing arts centers, Olympic sized pools, modern gyms, etc. Is a lighted football field really essential too?

Posted by menlo-atherton alum
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 25, 2009 at 1:51 am

I played football at Menlo-Atherton for four years, and continued to play at a collegiate program for an additional four. In college, all of our night games were in the evening, with the exception of homecoming. As a player, there is no better feeling than stepping out onto the field under bright lights, with all your friends and family watching. Lights at Menlo-Atherton would not only add value to the 3 million dollar field they play on, but it would also create a more enjoyable atmosphere for athletes and fans alike. It isn't fair that the women's lacrosse and soccer teams play on the sh**ty grass field enclosed with jail type fencing. Adding lights would give every program the opportunity to play and practice on one of Menlo-Atherton's finest assets (Coach Park's Field).

As mentioned in the article, night games are more profitable for the school. Ticket revenue increased nearly 300%, as did snack bar revenue. This is money that could benefit the Menlo-Atherton athletic department, and could be used to purchase safer equipment.

In terms on neighborhood disturbence... there are really only about 30-50(max) homes who have a direct impact from the lights/noise. Obviously, if lights are installed, they will not be used more then 1-2 nights/week. As Atherton residents you should really consider how hard these student-athletes work between their schoolwork and practices and think about how much playing under the lights like their sports heros would mean to them. Put people ahead of yourselves for once. Those you appose the lights say "the kids will be fine." Well, would you be happy if your sons/daughters were just fine? Or would you like your kids to be excited and happy, and give them an experience unlike any other?

This project has nothing to do with cost, and if you're concerned about where your tax dollars are going, maybe sell one of the 5 cars sitting in your driveways. Those who appose this project are the very people who are keeping our student athletes from experiencing one of the greatest and most memorable feelings of their childhood.


Posted by response to Lennox
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 25, 2009 at 10:56 am

Dear Lennox,

This is only peripheral to the MA discussion, but one of the statements you made is based on a false internet rumor, so I wanted to set the facts straight. You said:

"On the other hand, when the school district tried putting in a U-19 soccer field at Encinal Elementary because they were going to get some big cash $600k for the project, it just didn't make sense to have an adult game going on over the weekends and during after schools hours at a K-5 school. The school property was not being used for the benefit of the age appropriateness of the student body. Of course, safety issues were a big concern with young children."

Here's the real story: The Encinal field was designed to be as long as possible so that it could be used for U-14 games lengthwise or be divided up into multiple U-11/U-9 etc. games crosswise. The Menlo Park City School District school board said that as part of any joint-use agreement with the City of Menlo Park, that they would require the City to only allow the Encinal field to be used for children's games. The false story about "adult" use was being spread on the internet by people who opposed turf for other reasons. Because of the negativity generated by the false internet rumors, the City of Menlo Park decided against investing the $600K to enable the field to be a joint-use City/School turf field Encinal ($600K was the difference between what the district would be spending anyway to build a grass field and what it would cost to build it as turf instead). So we now have a nice grass field at Encinal that is fine for school day use, but which is more limited for after-school community use because grass cannot take as much wear and tear as turf. The fact that the City backed away from investing the $600K to enable more community use of the Encinal field to turf makes no difference to the school because the grass field is adequate for the school-day needs of an elementary school. The loss is in community use for all of our children since after school, weekend and summer uses of the field must be limited to give the grass field time to recover and keep it from getting bald and rutted like the the old field at Encinal was prior to the renovation.

Posted by Dave Radtke
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2009 at 11:20 pm

I don't live anywhere near these fields, but it is sad that so many people feel justified in inflicting a huge impact on nearby residents just because they are not a large group in order to provide a perceived benefit to another very small group. These people bought near a school with its positive and negative effects and paid whatever premium was necessary. However, now they are going to be subjected something very different and they will pay the price in their own peace as well as a financial price when they sell.

The comments about who was there first are totally irrelevant. If your neighbor built his house 5 years before you built yours, does that mean he can hold noisy parties whenever he wants and shine lights in your windows? I hope not.

Why is high school night football considered to be so thrilling? NFL and college teams play most of their games during the day. The 49ers and Raiders play 29 of their 32 games during the day this year.
It is pathetic that a school board member is "blown away" by seeing a night football game. Playing under the lights might seem very important to students and their parents for a couple of years, but I truly hope that is not going to be the high point of their lives. Those few players who are still looking back at their high schools exploits are the Hank Hills of the world selling their propane gas or doing some other dead end job.

Is it really that important to the parents of some of the stars to have little Johnny play night games so they can bask in hsi glory in front of more people? The residents live there year after year and decade after decade putting up with all the little Johnnys and their parents that move through the schools.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Almanac Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

What to do if you get a noisy Rheem/Ruud heat pump water heater
By Sherry Listgarten | 15 comments | 4,545 views

Do Palo Alto city officials ever, ever have enough money?
By Diana Diamond | 46 comments | 3,382 views

Beverly Hills' hit restaurant Mírame completes the lineup at Menlo Park’s Springline
By The Peninsula Foodist | 3 comments | 2,703 views

Don't Wait Till Your Child is 42 to Say "I'm Proud of You."
By Chandrama Anderson | 6 comments | 2,452 views

Travelin’ Solo: Salvation Mountain and East Jesus
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,624 views