When the St. Cloud Tech freshman football team defeated Alexandria 44-8 Tuesday at Clark Field, it marked the end of an era.
The game marked the last athletic contest scheduled for the field, which opened in 1942. The Tech varsity team has not played there since 2012, when the field was condemned due to the deteriorating conditions of the team rooms, concession stand and public restrooms.
But the field itself remains safe for play, and games involving teams at the younger levels of Tech’s football program have continued there.
However, the school district has announced plans for a building that would house district offices, early childhood programs, community education and other services at the site. Head varsity coach Gregg Martig said that means come next season, the football program will have to find someplace else to play those games, and a new place for the varsity to practice as well.
“It’s the end of an era, and now the other part is what we do now,” Martig said. “We’re going to have to find someplace else to practice and to play our fifth and sixth grade, junior high and JV games next year. Football was the last outdoor sport still practicing on campus here.”
Martig said Tuesday’s final game was bittersweet.
“The freshmen were aware that it was the last one and they were excited about getting the win,” Martig said. “We had a couple of people from the neighborhood wander over because they knew it was the last game. They were disappointed, but that’s the place we’re at now.”
Tech Activities Director Andrea Swanberg said the plan is to save the granite wall at the field and incorporate it into a new field in the future. But she said a lot of history will be lost when Clark Field is no longer there.
“It’s sad,” Swanberg said. “I walked out there Monday and I was just thinking about all the games that have been played there over the years. I’m a newcomer here. But I remember even that era between 2005-08 when were hosting playoff games there, including a state quarterfinal. The place was packed and it was such a great atmosphere. It’s such a unique place. There’s not another field in Minnesota like it. So it’s very bittersweet.”