WPIAL could lose Baldwin as host site for postseason events

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Monday, June 18, 2018 | 12:45 PM


The WPIAL could lose Baldwin as a host site for its track championships and other playoff games.

In the wake of eliminating the school's athletic director position, Baldwin-Whitehall superintendent Randal Lutz said the district will examine whether it wants to continue hosting WPIAL postseason events. Lutz noted the events provide “a few thousand dollars” in concession stand profits for booster groups but considered the events burdensome overall, since they don't make money for the school district and cause wear and tear on facilities.

“I would need to talk to our booster groups (before making a decision),” Lutz said. “There are some booster groups that think it's a burden. They'll just go and fund raise elsewhere. … For the folks that work it, that's an income source. For the boosters, that's an income source. But if I take off my booster hat … we technically as a district don't make money on those. Actually, it costs us money.”

Citing budget constraints, the school board on Wednesday voted 5-3 to eliminate the athletic director position and furlough current athletic director Vince Sortino, a 28-year employee of the district. Sortino's duties will be shared by other employees, Lutz said.

During the meeting, Lutz addressed the idea that the district had benefited greatly from Sortino bringing in postseason events.

“Let's talk about that,” Lutz said. “Baldwin High School is the home to many playoffs. Why? Great location. Great facilities. Great support team. It's also a very low cost. There's not a rental fee that is charged. We cover the direct cost of extra workers, but what about the regular workers who get pulled (to help with the events) and loss of productivity?”

Lutz said he was concerned that letting the WPIAL use its facilities would lead to added wear on “the floors, the track, athletics stands and bleachers” that would cost the district money for repairs in the future. The WPIAL makes schools pay for damage caused by visiting fans or athletes, but Lutz's concerns were more long-term.

“They're hopping on those bleachers and you watch those things flex and flex and flex, it's only a matter of time before they hit the button and those things don't open up,” Lutz said of the retractable seats in the school's gym. “To replace those bleachers costs $50,000. When that happens, is the WPIAL going to stand there and say, ‘You know what, we had 20 games there and contributed to that'? Unfortunately, no. We don't have the money to replace things that break out there.”

Baldwin was a host for WPIAL championships in track and volleyball this past school year, but it also welcomed playoff games in other sports.

“I've been up there. I've worked those games,” Lutz said. “My daughter's basketball group and that boosters group do make a few thousand dollars after 10 or 12 events. It's hard work, but it's a nice income source. But in the same sense, we don't have the workers like for softball and baseball to drag fields. We're mandating overtime, and it creates salty feelings here too.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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