BSD, ball team scramble for field deal

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Brookhaven School District board of trustees has expressed an intention to amend its policy on the use of Brookhaven High School’s football field to allow use of the scoreboard by a local semi-pro football team.

     Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Tommy Clopton briefed the school board Tuesday night about concerns related to the use of the high school’s King Field by the Tri-County Heroes.

     Clopton said the team’s leadership signed a rental agreement for the field but remains unfamiliar with the terms of the rental contract.

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     The football field’s rental policy allows only the field, stadium and the public bathrooms to be used, exempting the concession stand, scoreboard, public address system and press box.

     In discussions with the media, however, the Tri-County Heroes have indicated plans to use the concession stand, Clopton said.

     The Heroes are sponsored by King’s Daughters Medical Center, and one of the coaches will be KDMC Chief Operating Officer Phil Campbell. Clopton said in recent conversations with Campbell, Campbell has agreed to most of the contract terms but has requested permission to use the scoreboard.

     Campbell could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

     Further, Clopton said he approved the Heroes for five dates in the summer but has since found out their playoffs would begin in August. Clopton said he will not approve any dates after July 31.

     “The field has to have time to recover before our season,” Clopton said.

     Clopton asked the board for direction on the matter.

     He said he’s willing to allow use of the scoreboard but none of the other facilities. However, he said that’s not his decision to make.

     “This is the policy and I don’t have the authority to change this policy,” Clopton said.

     Board president Karen Braden urged caution in dealing with the situation.

     “We have a very good relationship with King’s Daughters,” Braden said. “This needs to be handled with kid gloves.”

     Board attorney Bob Allen advised board members that they approved the policy and have the authority to amend it as desired or to require additional restrictions.

     Board member Stan Patrick indicated concern that a previous request by a youth football league to use the field had been denied by Clopton.

     “We denied the little guys, but we’re fixing to allow the big guys,” Patrick said. “The little guys appeared before the board, but I’ve yet to see this other group.”

     Clopton said he denied the request by the youth league because they wanted to use the field during the high school’s football season.

     Clopton said a further concern is that according to what he’s been told, the Jackson State University marching band has been allowed use of the field, concession stands and public address system on occasions when they’ve visited Brookhaven to play in the Christmas parade.

     Board members agreed JSU should be advised of the restrictions on the field’s use, but Patrick cautioned that the board should not take any action that would hinder JSU from coming to Brookhaven again.

     “The community really enjoys that,” Patrick said.

     Patrick expressed interest in amending the board’s policy. Board members eventually agreed that Clopton should negotiate final terms of the rental contract with the Heroes and present that to board members for approval.

     A called meeting may be needed to deal with the matter, as the Tri-County Heroes’ first game is June 2 and the board does not meet again until June 26.