West Linn's stadium has been the site of many of the state's marquee football games in the past decade.
This fall, though, it will go dark.
The high school is renovating and expanding the stadium grandstand, increasing capacity by about 35 percent to roughly 1,750. Construction originally was scheduled to begin after the 2020 fall season but was pushed back until May, which means the stadium is likely to be out of use until late October.
The football team, a perennial 6A contender, will play its home games 11 miles away at Wilsonville High School. West Linn is hopeful that the stadium will be ready in time for the Lions to play host to Oregon City in the Battle for the Bridge rivalry game in the regular-season finale Oct. 29, but for now, the game is scheduled for Wilsonville.
"It's kind of par for the course with COVID,” West Linn football coach Chris Miller said of making the adjustment. “It'll be ready when it's ready, and until then we've got to find somewhere else to play. Wilsonville is close enough in our school district, so we'll just make it work. We play just as good on the road as we do at home. And our fans will travel.”
West Linn is scheduled to play five home games at Wilsonville, including a 2 p.m. Saturday date against Tualatin on Oct. 2. Wilsonville has a home game against North Salem the previous night, which was the only scheduling conflict during the nine-week season.
“It worked out perfectly because when they're away, we're at home,” West Linn athletic director Brigham Baker said. “We're fortunate to have a partner over there with Wilsonville helping us out when we need it.”
Miller is hopeful that the team's seniors will get a chance to finish out their careers on their home field.
“Whenever it's ready, we'll have a game to play there, and our kids will get to play at home,” Miller said. “Hopefully it'll be for the Oregon City game, or maybe even earlier. I've heard they're ahead of schedule. In the meantime, we've got to drive a little bit farther to go and play.”
Baker said that “it might be a dream to host Oregon City there. That would be awesome to have that be our first game for our community. And hopefully we'd get three playoff games at home. That would be a great way to open it up.”
New seating areas will be added to each side of the existing grandstand, which will be renovated. A new parking area also is being built behind the home grandstand.
“They're going to upgrade everything,” Baker said. “They're going to dress it up real nice. It will be a welcome addition.”
Many games in recent years have been standing-room only.
“This will help,” Baker said. “Hopefully we'll be able to put a lot of people in the stands and put on a good show for everybody. I think it will still be full, which is a great problem to have. We're fortunate to have a big school with a big following.”
West Linn's soccer teams will practice and play games on the artificial turf field at Rosemont Middle School.
“They don't have a stadium, but there is that hillside that people can stand on,” Baker said. “In the event the stadium gets done quicker than we think, we could start doing soccer games there.”
The football team will practice on the high school baseball field, which has artificial turf. It's not much of an adjustment considering the football team has practiced primarily on the baseball field for years, typically getting one practice per week on the football field.
“We're landlocked. We only have the two fields,” Miller said.
Down to one field, West Linn coaches and athletes will have to make do for now.
“It's uncomfortable, but we know at the end of it, it's going to be a pretty awesome facility for us,” Baker said. “So we're excited.”