Project delay at Hamilton stadium forces football game location change

Hamilton High School Athletic Director Todd Grimm checks out the progress on the previously delayed replacement of the track at Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium. Heavy rains during the summer break pushed back the track’s scheduled opening, forcing some of the school’s sports teams to play elsewhere. MICHAEL D. CLARK/STAFF

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Hamilton High School Athletic Director Todd Grimm checks out the progress on the previously delayed replacement of the track at Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium. Heavy rains during the summer break pushed back the track’s scheduled opening, forcing some of the school’s sports teams to play elsewhere. MICHAEL D. CLARK/STAFF

Classes for the new Hamilton school year may be off and running, but the school system’s premier sports stadium track has been stuck at the starting line.

Classes opened last week for the 10,000-student school system.

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But heavy rains during the summer break delayed the installation of the first new track at Hamilton High School in decades, said the school’s Athletic Director Todd Grimm.

No track means no access for a bit longer to Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium for early season sports like football and soccer as well as high school gym classes.

Hamilton’s Catholic Badin High School teams also use the playing field.

If the weather cooperates, said Grimm, the new track that encircles the football and soccer field, should re-open for use this week.

Two years ago, the stadium’s first-generation artificial turf was replaced with an upgraded and more colorful surface — along with other stadium improvements — at a cost of $400,000.

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Grimm estimated it’s been at least 30 years since the track was replaced all the way down to its underlying asphalt, leading to years of cracks that manifested on the running surface.

The new track project will eventually cost more than $600,000.

“You got to have some good luck with the weather, but we’re very happy with the potential outcome once the track is installed,” he said.

No access to the sports stadium impacts many students far beyond Hamilton and Badin’s fall sports teams, said Grimm.

“Physical education classes like to come out here and we’ve had to make some schedule adjustments. We had some soccer scrimmages that were supposed to be played here but we’ve made arrangements with other schools and they have graciously accepted us coming to them this year,” he said.

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“We’re very hopeful and we have our fingers crossed that the weather doesn’t play havoc,” and the final lane striping of the track can be completed, said Grimm.

Hamilton’s first football scrimmage is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 17, against Lakota West High School. The game, which was scheduled to be played at Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium, has been moved to Lakota West’s stadium, school officials announced this week. Game time will remain 7 p.m.

Once it’s all done, said Grimm, “we’ll be set for a long while.”

“Schwarm Stadium is one of the best sports venues in Southwest Ohio, and these projects will keep it up to date,” he said.

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