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District, RVSC at odds over Spiegelberg

Prep Notebook

As expected, the new artificial turf at Spiegelberg Stadium has gotten plenty of use since its completion in late August.

The North Medford, South Medford and St. Mary's High football and soccer teams have been going nonstop on the stunning new surface that is expected to last for more than a decade.

We had 560 kids use it last week and 530 the previous week, says South Medford athletic director Dennis Murphy, adding that one football game and three soccer matches will be played at the stadium on Saturday.

The field will soon play host to P.E. classes, marching bands and several community activities such as Pop Warner football and adult football leagues.

The Medford School District hopes to generate thousands of dollars each year by renting out the stadium to community groups. The revenue will be used to rebuild the &

36;700,000 project when it wears out in 10 to 15 years.

— Distressingly, the district and the Rogue Valley Soccer Club, which was expected to be the stadium's No. — outside user, are at odds over use of the facility.

Three weeks ago, the RVSC's board of directors rejected an offer from the school district that would have given the club 1,000 hours of use per year over the next five years. The club would have paid the district a total of &

36;150,000, which amounts to &

36;30 per hour.

The proposal was a compromise from earlier talks that had the district asking for &

36;225,000 over five years and &

36;40 per hour, and the club offering &

36;125,000 and &

36;19 per hour, along with requesting 1,300 hours.

We thought we came in on the low side, Murphy said. They're charging &

36;40 to &

36;50 in the Portland area for the use of their fields.

Plus, we weren't going to charge them for the use of lights, which a lot of other places do.

RVSC president Mike Dunn said the soccer club couldn't afford what the district was asking. He also felt that the contract had some gray areas in it that could have left the soccer club out in the cold.

Some things weren't defined ' they reserved the right to bump us out, Dunn said. Let's say we have some spring league games going on and their track people say, 'Hey, we need the field for next Saturday.' They could bump us off and we'd have no recourse.

I'm not accusing them of doing anything on purpose but there were some things that we felt uncomfortable with, some things that needed clarified.

Dunn said the 11-member RVSC board took less than 15 minutes to unanimously reject the district's offer.

The RVCC has more than 150 teams and 2,000 participants, making it the fifth largest soccer club in the state, Dunn said.

Murphy and North Medford High principal Doug McKenzie spoke to the school board last week about the impasse, and Murphy said district Superintendent Kathy McCollum is in the process of writing a letter to the RVSC board.

We're hoping this is not a done deal, Murphy said.

The sad part in all this is that the biggest losers are the ones that the stadium donors and visionaries were out to help the most: the kids.

It could and should be a win-win situation for the district and the club.

The stadium won't be receiving nearly as much use in the winter months as it gets in the fall and spring. However, the RVSC has 12 traveling teams playing in the winter, along with four Olympic Development Program squads.

The stadium could host some high-caliber soccer matches between teams from Portland, Eugene and the Rogue Valley.

Let's hope that a deal can be worked out between the feuding parties.

SOUTH MEDFORD LOST three quality basketball players this fall when brothers Alex and Clint Chapman transferred to Canby High near Portland and Tyler Heil moved to Reno, Nevada.

Heil, a 6-foot-1 senior, probably would have been the first guard off the bench for what is expected to be another loaded South Medford squad.

The Chapman brothers would have given coach Dennis Murphy considerable depth at the post positions and, with sophomore Clint standing 6-9 and junior Alex measuring 6-8, might have made the Panthers the tallest team in the state.

The Chapman kids would have seen time on our JV team and probably swung up to varsity, so them leaving really affects the JVs, South Medford coach Dennis Murphy says. And losing Heil hurts because he's a senior who could have helped us in so many ways.

Murphy isn't likely to receive cards of sympathy from his fellow SOC coaches, however. The Panthers will still be a big and talented team ' featuring a front line of 6-7 sophomore Kyle Singler, 6-7 junior Kendall Geilow and 6-6 junior Brent Johnson ' and will welcome standout freshman point guard Michael Harthun to go with sharp-shooting senior off-guard Isaiah Adams.

Geilow transferred to South Medford from North Medford this fall.

HERE'S SOME FOOD for thought. The North Medford football team stopped at the Hometown Buffet in Salem on Sept. 17 for its team meal. The Black Tornado was on its way north to play Clackamas.

As the North Medford players were chowing down, who should enter the building but Crater, which played at Gresham that same night.

Talk about an awkward situation.

As most local football fans know, John Beck and nearly his entire staff left North Medford last winter to coach at Crater, creating some hard feelings among the Tornado players.

I wanted to put the pads on right then and there, North Medford quarterback Ben Running said.

The two teams meet Friday at Spiegelberg Stadium in what promises to be an emotional game.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail