hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

November 15, 2012

City shuts off stadium heat to save money

Pipes drained to prevent freezing this winter

By Alex Lippa alippa@hgazette.com
The Haverhill Gazette

---- — The fall sports season at Haverhill High School has been a blazing success, but once December hits, the heat will be turned off at Trinity Stadium for three months in an attempt to save money.

“A couple of people asked why we were leaving the heat on and we realized that it didn’t make any sense for us to do that,” said Tom O’Brien, athletic director at Haverhill High.

Instead, the heat will be turned off once the fall season is officially over and will remain off until the end of February, when the spring season starts. The heat was turned off last winter as well, and the city ended up saving nearly $4,000, officials said.

But the effort to save money comes with some risk — if things aren’t managed properly.

To prevent pipes in the stadium from freezing, Facilities Director Tom Geary said a member of the maintenance staff will drain the pipes. Geary submitted a memo outlining how draining the pipes would be cheaper than leaving the heat on all winter.

“In the past, it was a lot more costly to do that,” O’Brien said of draining the pipes. “But (Geary) has found a way to do all that at little cost.”

In the 2011 fiscal year when the heat was left on, it cost $4,621 to heat the stadium. But in this past fiscal year, the cost was only $826, including labor costs for draining the stadium pipes.

With no heat over the winter, sports equipment will have to be moved outside the stadium to a storage facility. O’Brien said that the schools have a contract through which they ship out all equipment that is stored at the stadium to a storage facility, where it will sit during the winter months.

Trinity Stadium is the same complex as the old Haverhill Stadium. It took on the Trinity name when Trinity EMS ambulance service paid $75,000 for three years of naming rights.

For generations, the stadium has been the home of Hillie teams, including the football team which has experienced a big turnaround this year after several losing seasons. The Hillies have eight wins and two losses. Several other Haverhill High fall sports teams had successful seasons playing at the stadium.

The stadium has hosted a variety of events this year and become a place where other high schools are looking to play games. When Georgetown High could not play a football game in its town because of the EEE mosquito threat, it played a game at Trinity Stadium. Pentucket High and Newburyport High have also inquired about playing games at the stadium due to weather concerns and because Trinity has a turf field, which allows for good drainage during and after storms.