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CU proposes to utilize & maintain Nokes-Lasater Field

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The Wilson County Board of Education is considering a proposal by Cumberland University to maintain and use Nokes-Lasater Field as a new home for the Bulldog football program.

Home for Lebanon High football for the past 46 seasons, the Blue Devils soon will vacate the 5,000-seat Nokes-Lasater Field and move into facilities at Clifton Tribble Field / Danny Watkins Stadium, located at the new LHS campus off Hartmann Drive which is set to open this fall.

Recent conversations between CU President Dr. Harvill C. Eaton and Director of Schools Mike Davis have resulted in the drafting of a Memorandum of Agreement detailing terms.

The Board of Education will study the proposal in a work session set for 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21.

The MOA is calling for a long-term (30 year) assignment of management and general responsibility of Nokes-Lasater Field.

CU is not requesting a transfer of ownership, because state law precludes a gift to a non-government entity.

We proposed a 30-year agreement renewable at five-year intervals at our call, Dr. Eaton said.

If approved by both parties, we would begin to transfer our operations May-June so we can be ready for the first home football game this fall.

If an agreement can be reached, Lebanon and Wilson County would benefit greatly.

With the eventual installment of an artificial playing surface, Nokes-Lasater Field could become a hub for youth and middle school football as well as a potential site for postseason play.

Cumberland officials have hinted at making application to host the NAIA National Championship game, an event that would draw thousands of visitors to the community for several days.

For seven years the city of Savannah, Tennessee, located in remote Hardin County, hosted the championship game in a high school facility much smaller than Nokes-Lasater Field.

Wilson County has far more hotel rooms and restaurants that Hardin County and is much closer to a major airport, allowing the participating teams and their travel parties a relatively short drive from Nashville to Lebanon.

With the installation of new lights at Nokes-Lasater Field two years ago, Cum- berland could opt to play several games at night, including the possibility of Thursday night games, in an effort to grow their local fan base.

In the MOA, Cumberland agrees to allow the use of the facilities by local groups / teams when their needs (on a per-occasion basis) do not interfere with scheduled CU activities.

By TOMMY BRYAN, tbryan@wilsonpost.com

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