Erie High School Football Field plagued with drainage problems, repairs costing thousands

Flooding and repairs cost nearly $200,000

ERIE, Colo. - Two floods and hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs have silenced the sounds of high school athletics at Erie High School's football stadium.

A rainstorm last August was the first storm to cause major flooding at the school's football field. In an image posted on Twitter, Erie's head football coach Larry Gartrell can be seen on the field standing in deep water with the caption, "Coach Gartrell needing a kayak."

It cost the St. Vrain Valley School District more than $98,000 to repair the field and turf in time for the Tiger's first home game against Berthoud High School.

A month later, the field flooded again when the entire state was hit hard by constant rain and historic flooding in mid-September. Erie High School's track and field suffered even more water-damage causing the school to move several home football games to a nearby stadium.  

"It's tough you always want to have home field advantage," said Erie High School Junior Courtney Kaiser. "We had some of our home games at Frederick which is our rival school which is even worse, kicking us while we're down."

Kaiser told us the original repair work performed on the field in August didn't do much to solve the larger problem.

"It was just temporary. They didn't do anything to fix it, just moved the sand," explained Kaiser.

While the historic flooding the state experienced last September is rare, 7NEWS found there's a bigger issue with the way the school's stadium is designed. The field was built on submissive ground with farm land directly uphill from it. As a result, any kind of precipitation flows from the farmland above straight down to the football field. A drainage and mitigation problem that makes the field more susceptible to flooding when it rains.

School work order documents obtained by 7NEWS show repair and maintenance costs at Tiger stadium have added up to nearly $200,000 since 2006.The stadium is less than a decade old.

Erie's home playing field is still on hold and the school is now searching for a new head football coach. Longtime head coach Larry Gartrell, who led the Tigers to a state championship in 1997, resigned this month. Gartrell will remain a teacher and baseball coach at the high school. The district said his resignation is not linked to the stadium's issues. 

St. Vrain Valley School District denied our requests for an on-camera interview to discuss how the district plans to solve the stadium's design, mitigation and drainage issues.  A spokesperson did tell us a plan is in the works to address and permanently fix the on-going problems. In the meantime, work will begin this summer on a solution to re-open Tiger Stadium. 

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