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Kentfield Board To Review Marin Catholic's Grand Plans Today

While the football team prepares for the state championship game, the school hopes to score with its designs for a new grandstand facility.

Marin Catholic quarterback Jared Goff has been in the spotlight all season during the Wildcats' run to the California State football championship game.

When the Wildcats take the field Saturday in Oroville against Sutter High School in the California Interscholastic Federation title game, Goff and his Marin Catholic teammates will likely have a loyal group of parents, friends and fans cheering them on during every play.

Marin Catholic President Tim Navone hopes to capture that excitement with a new grandstand better suited to one of the best high school programs in the state.

"This is no way football-only," Navone stressed. "We have a huge portion of our students who participate in athletics here and our strength and training program affects a large part of our community here. … It will be an absolutely first-class project once we get it done."

Marin County Supervisor Katie Rice sent a letter to the Greenbrae Property Owners Association in November that read: "It is my intention to work with all stakeholders to ensure that any project that goes forward adds value not only to Marin Catholic, but also to the broader community as well."

"One of the issues with Marin County is field space," he continued. "Every field, every park is being used almost all the time. Our lacrosse team was practicing out in the weeds behind St. Vincent's. … We recognize that's an issue."

Marin Catholic, with architect Mike Brown, will go before the Kentfield Planning Advisory Board at College of Marin today at 7:30 p.m. for a review of the project. The meeting will be held in Room 108 of the Administration Building.

The project and any recommendations from the board would then go before the Marin County Board of Supervisors for final approval.

The proposed 1,,242-seat grandstand would include stadium seating, as well as bleacher seating, an improved press box, bathrooms, a storage area, snack stand and access for persons with disabilities. Under the grandstand seating would be a state-of-the-art weight room and locker rooms for the football, soccer and lacrosse teams.

The grandstand project is expected to cost $3 million. The school's application also calls for a new sound system.

"College of Marin in the early Sixties was getting rid of its stadium bleachers, and our school somehow said 'We'll take them.' We put them up there. It's the same bleachers. We had to put $52,000 into them to retrofit the bleachers about a year and a half ago to make sure they'd be safe. It's now 50 years later and they're still standing," Navone said. "We want to put stadium seats in here. But, if you've been to any Marin Catholic football game, as esteemed as the football team is, there's no bathrooms — there's two Port-a-Potties — and there's no ADA access or anything. So we had to get up to code on all those things."

The project original included new permanent lighting for the field, but according to Navone, the school is not pursuing that right now out of respect for the neighbors' concerns.

"We want to get rolling on the grandstand," said Navone, who hopes that part of the project will be completed in time for the 2013 or, at the latest, 2014 football season.

The lights would cost an additional $500,000. The school is looking at lights with visors and "dark sky technology" to focus the light on the field and prevent "light pollution."

The school would apply for 10 evening events a year, according to Navone, for five football games and five soccer or lacrosse matches.

"We're interested in having Friday night football. That would be amazing," Navone said. "We've done a lot of neighborhood outreach. … One of the key misunderstandings out there is 'Well, they say it's going to be 10 times a year. Now it's Saturdays, then it's Fridays, pretty soon it's Sundays, Wednesdays, Tuesdays and then they'll have the circus here.' … If there's some trust that it really is just five times a year the community would be impacted, they'd be behind it and support it."

Navone continued, "We want Friday night football because our whole community can come to that. When we're on Saturdays, all our other teams are playing at the same time. We just want our chance to have all the good things that can happen community-wise for football. What I appreciate is some of the Greenbrae residents who say Greenbrae is an amazing plaza, Kentfield is an amazing place and a wonderful place to live, but if there's anything it lacks is a sense of community. … We would love to be a part of that where there's a sense of community for Kentfield and Greenbrae to be a part of that."

One aspect of the redesign could create a new tradition at Marin Catholic. A loyal supporter of Marin Catholic during a trip to the Midwest found a sculptor who had created a brass wildcat statue for a college.

"The family called me and said 'Hey, do you want me to help buy one of these things? He can recommission it to make a bronze wildcat.' It'll be shipped here (this) week," Navone said.

The statue, according to Navone, would sit in front of the grandstand and Marin Catholic players could touch the wildcat as they enter the field — perhaps on the way to another championship run.

"It's an exciting project and it comes at an exciting time," Navone said.

Haggis December 13, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Eons ago when I was in high school all of our football games were played on Friday nights so as not to interfere with classes or weekend activities. Seemed kind of exciting at the time, being out after dark, but perhaps not the best idea in our modern time.
Ian December 13, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Good luck to the team in their championship run. The new project sounds like it would be good for the students.

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