There’s going to be an extra effort to put the “home” into homecoming at Chanhassen High School this year.
The varsity football team is looking for other places to play its home games this season while city and school officials assess the safety of the team’s home bleachers. They are built into the side of a hill, and this summer’s heavy rains appear to have caused erosion under a concrete plaza at the top of the hill.
The home side bleachers don’t appear to have suffered any damage, but school and district officials recently decided it wouldn’t be safe to have people use them until they’d gotten professional advice on the stability of the hill and fixing problems that led to the erosion.
“There are a lot of different experts who have to come in and take a look at this,” said Brett Johnson, director of communications for the Eastern Carver County School District.
The district is retaining engineering firms, including some with expertise in soil mechanics, to inspect the plaza and recommend what work might need to be done to fix the problems.
Meanwhile, the home bleachers will be off-limits. Some events, like junior varsity and B-squad games, will go on as scheduled because they draw smaller crowds, and both sides can sit on the visitors’ side, Johnson said. He said the field also is safe, and that all of the football teams continue to practice on it.
But varsity games, which can draw crowds of 2,000 or more, will have to be played someplace else. “We just can’t have fans sitting on that [home] side,” Johnson said.
The team’s first home game Sept. 12 against Chaska already has been moved to Chaska. Johnson said the district is scouting the area for other places to play Chanhassen’s remaining home games against Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Bloomington Kennedy and Bloomington Jefferson.
“We’re really disappointed, and the kids are disappointed as well,” said Chanhassen High School Principal Tim Dorway. He said school officials have begun meeting with seniors on the varsity squad, parents and coaches to begin planning ways to ensure that the football season continues to be a fun and rewarding experience for the school.
“We’ve been brainstorming ideas, but those are adult ideas,” Dorway said.
He said students will be able to provide feedback on some suggestions, like tailgating before games or arranging transportation for home games that now will be played on the road.
Ultimately, Dorway, said students will play a big role in deciding what kinds of things may be done to generate fan support even if games can’t be on Chanhassen’s home turf. “There are a lot more of them than there are of us [adults],” he said.
As for homecoming, Dorway pointed out that the lack of a home field won’t affect some events, like the dance and the parade downtown.
“There’s still going to be a home in homecoming,” Dorway said. “Together with students, we’re going to craft a solution that is good for them.”