January 30, 2023
Tom Tolen / [email protected]
A new Brighton Area Schools sports practice facility that is usable in all weather, and was part of a voter-approved bond issue, is now open.
The building, which is at the corner of Bauer and Brighton Roads next to Maltby Intermediate School, is called the “BAS Indoor Practice Facility”. However, Brighton Athletic Director John Thompson, with a chuckle, says that the students have given it the informal, and somewhat whimsical, name of “The Dog House” – a reference to the Brighton teams’ nickname – the Bulldogs.
The structure is being paid for via bond money from the $59 million bond issue passed by voters in 2019. Some have complained that the facility is too “elitist” for Brighton and attempts to place it in the same company as the Birminghams, Bloomfield Hills and Grosse Pointes of the world. But Thompson says that’s not the case.
To the naysayers, he responds, in his words, “I never compare it to anyone else….Our focus is being the best we can be.” However, Thompson reveals that a few other school districts — including Novi, Utica and East Kentwood have already sent representatives to visit the facility, and he says they came away impressed. The building will make Brighton the only district in the KLAA – its expansive athletic conference — to have such a practice facility.
The rules regarding which sports and grades can use the facility will be set according to season, and it will be in use year-round, seven days a week, even in summer. Although the building is not air-conditioned it does have three large ceiling fans to dissipate the heat.
Will the facility be for use by the general public? Thompson says, “BAS is in the kids business, so it’ll be for the kids.” However, the long-term goal is to eventually allow some use by the community at large, although he emphasizes that “The schools come first.”
The building is larger than a regulation-size football field, and can be used as a full-fledged practice field for not only football, but baseball, soccer, softball, rugby, lacrosse, field hockey and other sports.
Although there will be no formal grand opening, an open house was held over the weekend for the public to come in and tour “The Doghouse”.
As Thompson says, the ultimate purpose of the facility “is to provide the opportunity for kids to be successful, and it’ll be around long after I’m gone. As my dad used to say, ‘If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”