It's been more than four years since voters in the Napa Valley Unified School District approved Measure G, which bumped up homeowners' property taxes to finance $183 million in facilities bonds. Much of that funding went to build the long-anticipated, much-needed high school in American Canyon and to improve school sites throughout the district, which runs from AmCan to Yountville and educates more than 17,000 students.
A relatively minuscule $13 million of this funding was all it took to completely renovate and improve what has been recognized as one of the top high-school stadiums in America, Memorial Stadium.
The refurbished stadium, originally built in 1951, was completed this fall; the first soccer and football games were played there in early October. Along with the new field, there are new bleachers -- safer, more accessible and more comfortable than the previous concrete versions --new restrooms, a new concession stand, new team rooms, a new ticket booth, a new parking lot and more.
Of course, all of this new construction was merely a prologue to the 39th playing of the "Big Game" between the Napa High Indians and Vintage High Crushers, who had been playing their home games at Justin-Siena's Dodd Field while Memorial Stadium was under reconstruction. (Played on Nov. 5, Big Game 2010 was convincingly won by the Indians, 28-3, in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,500.)
It maybe newly renovated, but the beloved playing field is still called Memorial Stadium --not Chevron Arena or Constellation Field. Amid calls for less taxation and more private funding for discretionary public projects, at a time when regional school districts are eliminating sports and arts funding, I am proud that Napa voters see the value in investing in education and team sports.
I had a very strange dream a couple of weeks ago that all of northern California went completely berserk over the fact that our local baseball team, made up of a ragtag group of mostly unknown misfits right out of the pages of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," against all odds and predictions had actually won the World Series (and rather convincingly so). Then I woke up, and everyone I knew had had the same crazy dream. My last interest in major league sports was when the amazing NY Mets won the World Series in 1969, but now I am a sports fan again, and I am happy to pay a bit more in local taxes so our local kids can play on Memorial Stadium's modern, safe (if unnaturally-colored, as though imported directly from the planet Zircon ) artificial turf, just like the big guys can.
I like that, and I like the fact that kids and people who can't get around easily can enjoy these games in comfort and safety. So to all the anonymous "throw the bums out, less taxes, less government spending" commenters on the local blogs, I ask you to go to the new Memorial Stadium in Napa and tell me how much hardship you can recall that resulted from the onerous Measure G Bond we voted to approve back in 2006. Apart from the stadium, those bond funds are also paying for new science classrooms at Napa and Vintage High Schools and expanded facilities at New Technology High School. Upgrades at other school sites include adding required handicapped access, improving school drop-off and pick-up safety (no doubt widening the school driveways to accommodate all the SUVs), and a slew of other much-needed renovations and improvements throughout the district.
You will, of course, recall that this cost you an additional $200 a year in taxes on your half-million-dollar house. You basically sacrificed one retail therapy day at Target to make our community's school facilities a whole lot better for a long time.