Dixon Youth Football teams are practicing like it will play its first games on Aug. 27, but where the first snaps of the season will take place has become a big question mark.
The league, which plays its game at the old , faces a dilemma after copper wiring was stolen from the underground electrical system that powers the lights of the football field. Copper generally sells at high prices with copper scrap wire currently selling at $4.30 per pound.
The league leases the field from the school district, and plays its games on Saturdays. Five separate teams play games starting at 10 a.m., with the final game starting at 6 p.m. and lasting to about 8:30 p.m. With the hours of light available dwindling as the teams play deeper into the fall, the lights become a necessity so that teams can play safely.
Facilities Director Cecile Nunley said that the wiring was stolen sometime in the spring, but couldn’t pinpoint the date that the theft occurred. She said that the district has requested bids to estimate the cost to replace the wiring.
“We did receive quotes,” Nunley said. “All the quotes we’re pretty expensive. Because of that, we do not plan to replace them.”
In addition to a shrunken budget limiting available funds, Nunley said that thieves could once again steal the wire, putting the district and league back in the same position it’s currently in.
League president Jim Aarhus said the club was informed of the situation four weeks ago. After bids from local electricians made it apparent that the cost of replacing the wire would be upwards of $15,000-$20,000, the league determined that replacing the wire was no longer an option.
“We’re not going to be able to pay that, he said. “It’s just way too much. We’re a volunteer organization and we don’t have money. We take registration fees from parents every year and that really covers the cost of what it takes to operate for one year, so we don’t have excess funds.”
Nunley said that if the league can pay for the lights, they will be repaired but otherwise the district cannot afford to fix them.
“The district takes any donation,” she said. “We would take it and honor the donation and replace the lights.”
With repairs not an option, Aarhus said that the league doesn’t know what to do at the moment, but has its eyes set on possibly moving over to the new Dixon High football stadium.
“Our organization would love to play at the new high school,” he said. “We’re going to see if that’s a possibility.”
Nunley is unsure if the league has made a formal request to use the field. She said if they are allowed to use it, that the league games cannot conflict with any school programs.
Aarhus said that in past talks with the district officials, the league has been told that it can’t play at the near-brand new facility.
“That’s one of the things we’re really probably now, as an option, are going to push hard on,” he said.
With the old district-owned field being rendered almost useless after the crime, Aarhus thinks the time is now for future Dixon Rams to start playing at a place they’ll call home some day.
“It’s your future high school kids,” he said. “Why would you not want them to play on the field that they’re ultimately going to play on?”
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