Parks & Recreation approves modified reopening of Goerke Park
Move would allow for SPASH alternative football season
By Taylor Hale
STEVENS POINT — City leaders approved a motion that could allow a modified reopening of Goerke Park for organized sports. The motion was unanimously approved during a parks and recreation meeting on Jan. 6.
The city restricted gatherings of over 50 at all city parks in July due to COVID-19.
The changes would see Goerke Stadium reopening for public use with a 25 percent occupancy limitation.
“The reason this is back this evening is because now we turned the calendar to 2021, we are beginning to look at some of the reschedulings of SPASH’s 2020 football seasons to spring football, which is something that many districts across the state did,” said Stevens Point Parks Director Dan Kremer. “As well as the track and field season that is coming that is typically held in Goerke. In addition, we do have organized tennis competitions that take place in Goerke Park.”
The change would allow SPASH to participate in the WIAA spring alternative season, after cancelling their fall season due to COVID-19 concern. SPASH hosted their winter sports in 2020 with social distancing practices in place. SPASH set a two-guests-per-athlete limit on their seating.
According to Kremer, Goerke holds around 2,000 guests, and roughly 400 individuals would be allowed into the stadium with the 25 percent occupancy guidelines set in place.
Stevens Point Public School District Superintendent Craig Gerlach told the commission that SPASH would be playing football this year regardless of whether they could play in their hometown.
“We’ve made the decision that we are going to participate. The question is whether or not we are going to play at Goerke. We are going to play football in March. We hope to play our home football games at Goerke. If we can’t, we’ll find another site to play at, it’s as simple as that,” Gerlach explained.
District 2 Alder David Shorr voiced concerns over reopening the stadium.
“I’m really concerned about this. Even though the vaccine is being administered, come March, we are still going to be months from when it’s really been available to people,” Shorr said. “Even if you take precautions, this is a sport where people are right on top of each other.”
SPASH Athletic Director Michael Blair noted that coaches would be supplied with thermometers for testing athletes before games. The WIAA issues COVID-19 clearance forms that both teams must sign before each game.
District 6 Alder Jeremy Slowinski said that the community needs to stop living in fear of COVID-19 and pushed to see the stadium reopened.
“We need to stop living in fear and start somewhat getting back to some normalcy, using common sense,” Slowinski said. “This is just as important to these parents as it is to these kids, to watch their kids succeed and participate in these sports.”
The alternative season for fall sports would begin mid-February/early March.