Sparks to Get New Look

Jaxon Owens , Website Ediotr

Carl Sparks Stadium has been home to many events since its creation in 1987, including PHS football, soccer, track and field and also was home to many soccer state championship games.

One thing it has not seen since 1987 is a full paint job.

Puyallup School District Athletic Director Rick Wells explains what is happening to Sparks this coming summer.

“The stadium has never had a full paint job since it opened in 1987. We have done touch ups but we have never repainted the whole place, so it is due. That is one of the major items that is going to happen is repainting the entire stadium, specifically the entire exterior of the stadium this summer,” Wells said. “We did paint underneath the overhangs, the covered part, we painted the beams and ceilings last summer and then we are painting the rest of it this coming summer.”

Director of Educational Planning for the Puyallup School District Mario Casello goes into why Sparks Stadium is being repainted. “We have school facilities or buildings and each of those are colored according to that schools color scheme.  Then within the Puyallup School District we have supplemental buildings that have nothing to do with any one school. For example our central office building or special services building. We also have our central kitchen, our information technology building and of course then we have Sparks Stadium. All of those are supplemental building and there are others that I did not mention, they are not schools,” Casello said. “What we would like to do in the district is get all of those types of buildings, is get all of them a similar color scheme that matches our central building colors.  We are going to paint the entire exterior along with the ticket booths, to mirror the colors of the central office building.”

A repainting is not the only project that is going to happen at Sparks Stadium.

“We are putting all new light bulbs in all the tall light poles around the stadium. There are six light poles around the stadium and in each of them there is at least one or two light bulbs that are burnt out,” Wells said. “We need to replace those, plus we currently use a mercury vapor light bulb, which over time they tend to lose their luminosity or brightness. It has been seven or eight years since we last replaced them, they may seem bright when you look at them from a distance but their luminosity is compromised because of age.”

Casello adds to the projects that are happening at Sparks Stadium.

“We are not doing anything to the field or the track at Sparks. One other thing we are doing is upgrading the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system in the offices below Sparks Stadium,” Casello said.

Wells explains why replacing the lighting is important when it comes to playing a game at Sparks Stadium.

“We need to replace all the bulbs, particularly the ones that are burnt out and re-aim each canister. When you technically light a field, each light has a certain grid on the surface that it [lights up],” Wells said. “Over time, gravity, wind or other elements cause some of those lights to shift, so the field is not evenly lit. Therefore we need to re-aim, refocus and replace all the lights on the light poles at Sparks Stadium.”

Wells reassures that the scoreboard is not going anywhere but there was a minor repair needed this past April.

“The scoreboard was brand new when it was installed in seven or eight years ago and it is supposed to a 30-year life span, so it should still be good. We did have to do a minor repair to it. It has electronic drivers in it to receive signals because it is wireless. We had one of the drivers fail in April but we fixed that already, the scoreboard is fine,” Wells said.

Wells explains why Sparks has never seen this kind of upgrades in its history before.

“The reason that Sparks has not received a full paint job is because the community views Sparks Stadium as one of the cleaner facilities or stadiums in the area. When you compare it to other stadiums around WA, it looks better. It is a lot easier stadium to clean because it is made of brick, stone and concrete, we do touch ups to keep it looking good,” Wells said. “Even if you do that, over time touch-up does not catch-up.  You can only touch-up what you can actually reach with a ladder and those stadiums are quite high.”

Sparks Stadium has not had its repainting because there were other issues that needed the district’s attention, according to Wells.

“There are some parts that are well do for a repainting, the other thing is when you touch-up paint is you are putting new paint next to old paint, which is faded, so you can see it if you know what to look for. Also, repainting Sparks Stadium has never been that pressing to warrant a complete paint job, there have been other more pressing projects to do and there is only so much money at some point it is time and that is where we are at,” Wells said.

Casello explains how paying for all the renovations works.

“All of these expenses come from the different budgets that we have that are allocated to different parts of the overall budget. For example with the lights, after a certain number of years you have to replace lights every so many years because the burn out,” Casello said. “Anything that will require maintenance or replacing over time, there is money allocated for that in the budget. That HVAC system has not been working properly so we went and upgraded to work right, so we fixed for the people whom work in those offices below Sparks, so there is money allocated for that.”

The idea of repainting Sparks has been on the table for a couple of years.

“The idea of repainting Sparks first came up about two to three years ago. I had been putting on my request sheet that I give to the district office. Every principal and director turns into the district office a list of things they think that they need and that list as you might expect is huge each year. Since there is a limit to how much we can spend, the [district] prioritizes what is an emergency or most important,” Wells said. “Things like a leaking roof are a lot more important than repainting Sparks Stadium, because a leaking roof can destroy facilities. Now that it has made its way to the top of the list, it is finally getting done.”

Sparks is not the only facility in the Puyallup School District that is getting renovated the PHS gym floor is being fully replaced this coming July.

“The gym floor at PHS had some water damage done to it over the winter, it was not on the gym floor but it was over by the pool entrance area,” Wells said. “You can reseal a floor every four or five years but until you really strip it down and get a new floor in there you are dealing with some slippery conditions for the basketball, volleyball or wrestling teams that use that space; it can really an become hazardous after a while. I am not saying that the floor is at that point but we do not want the floor to get to that point.”

Wells sees Sparks as one of the district’s biggest assets.

“One of the biggest assets that the Puyallup School District has is its property and facilities. Even if you are a homeowner, you can only ignore a leaky roof for so long before you replace it. To preserve our facilities at Sparks and over at the PHS gym, it came time to get those things done,” Wells said.

Wells explains who decides what projects to do.

“The people who are higher than me, they sit down and look at the list that I turned in and the one that PHS turned in, all the way down to the ones that Pope Elementary turned in and decide which ones they will do,” Wells said.

Wells sees the Puyallup School District as lucky to have such a great stadium.

“We here in the Puyallup School District are lucky to have such a great stadium, I think that it is one of the best high school stadiums in the entire state to be honest with you, there are other ones around but Sparks is near the top of them all, I am proud to work here and be a part of the entre process and I will do my best to maintain the glory of Sparks Stadium,” Wells said.