by Marianne Gasaway
There’s a lot of excitement this fall surrounding the start of the football season. That’s when the Clear Lake community will get its first look at the new Lions Field. The new turf, bleachers and press box are part of a $3.5-$4 million project encompassing not only the football field, but track and softball field lights, bleachers and concessions.
The history of Lions Field dates back to 1926 when the Lions Club in Clear Lake purchased the present athletic field for the school. At that time, the school district was without any field, “by reason of the building of Lincoln School on the ground that was being used for an athletic field,” according to the Clear Lake Mirror.
The newspaper went on to explain that at that time, the School Board claimed it had no authority to purchase an athletic field and did not know what was going to be done for a place to play football and other sports.
The local Lions Club came to the rescue. The group purchased ground from Christensen and Eliasen for $2,500 and leased it to the school district for use as an athletic field.
In order to handle the proposition, the Lions Club formed a corporation known as the Lions Athletic Association. It entered into a contract with Christensen and Eliasen for the land purchase. The club paid $250 in cash and the balance was to be paid in nine installments of $250 each. All deferred payments drew interest at 6 percent annually. Under the terms of the lease, the school district paid the Lions Athletic Association $250 rent per year until the purchase price of the land had been paid in full.
The Lions Club also paid for grading, costing approximately $900. Other improvements made at the site by the club increased their investment to about $1,500.
At the time, the field was located a convenient two blocks north of the high school (now Central Gardens).
The lease provided that when the final payment of $250 had been made the ground was to be deeded to the Independent School District of Clear Lake for an athletic field.
In October 1926 the field was dedicated and in consideration of the service rendered to the school by the Lions Club, Clear Lake athletic teams were named the Lions and the phrase “Home of the Lions” was made a fixture at the field.
“If anyone passes the manual training room these days, they would see the boys busily making the new bleachers, which the Junk Contest paid for. They are the new portable type and are very comfortable. The game Friday (vs. Britt) will initiate these,” stated a story in the 1926 school newspaper, the Clear Lake Ripple. “The field was prepared for games by the students and the instructors. A fence has been built around the field and bleachers put up for people to sit on when attending games,”
At least one time in school history there was serious consideration of moving the athletic fields.
In 1945 the Lions Club responded tersely to a proposition by the School Board to move the school’s athletic field. The club said it would not oppose any change deemed necessary for the good of the school, but argued that if the School Board had money to spend on an athletic field, it would be a greater benefit to the athletic department to spend it for bleachers and lights, rather than new ground estimated to cost $9,000.
Obviously, the 1945 School Board decided to continue to make Lions Field the home of the Lions. And in its 94th year, it’s evolved into one of the premiere fields in the state.