Don Shula Stadium will now be operational a little later at night for John Carroll University students. University Heights City Council passed a compromise between the city and JCU which extends the hours the University can use the stadium, its lights and sound systems.
The compromise passed stipulates that JCU may use the stadium for intramural and club sports Saturday through Thursday until 10:30 p.m. This use includes lighting, but excludes the use of the sound system.
The compromise also grants the University 30 events per year including varsity games and events such as Relay for Life, with prior notice to the City. The events can utilize both lights and sound in the stadium.
The final stipulation of the compromise is that JCU will plant trees where there are currently gaps to block bright lights from surrounding neighbors.
In favor of finding a compromise between the parties, UH Mayor Susan Infeld said, “Helping JCU helps the City.”
The compromise was meant to meet needs and concerns of both the University and area neighbors, who have had issues with the bright lights and noise from the stadium.
Some residents, such as Jim and Mary Thelen, were concerned about lights from the stadium they see in their bedroom at night.
“It’s just the light in the bedroom that’s an issue. We just want a shield or something on the lights,” Jim said.
The issue was voted on after being tabled at the council’s Sept. 6 meeting. Members tabled the issue so they could bring in officials who worked on JCU’s lighting and sound systems to address questions and concerns.
Franklin Krakowski from Paladin Professional Sound answered questions about the stadium’s sound system, which he said was at a significantly lower level than other stadiums he’s worked on and is at the lowest level possible without losing speech intelligibility. JCU also reduced the number of speakers through which music will play before and during the game to reduce noise.
Mike Linpach of Musco Lighting told council most of the lights were blocked by trees along the property line of the field and JCU agreed to a lower light setting for extended hours.
JCU Director of Media Relations University Marketing and Communications Tonya Strong-Charles spoke at the meeting about the need to increase the hours of operation to allow intramural and club teams to host games, and allow varsity teams to practice and host games.
“We can at least then meet the minimum requests and needs of students,” she said.
It was estimated that approximately 1,000 students would be able to utilize the field for intramural and club sports.
JCU senior Meghan Everett spoke at the meeting as well.
“It’s very unfortunate we can’t use the stadium for positive activities at night. It’s a fun way to bond with friends at school,” she said.
UH resident Tom Fanning spoke in support of JCU.
“Events like these bring excitement. We knew there would be some noise when we moved here,” he said.
Councilwoman Susan Pardee motioned to bring the compromise to a vote. She felt keeping one day on which lights would not be on until 10:30 p.m. would allow residents to use their backyards without noise and lights from the stadium.
The compromise voted on was not what JCU originally wanted. JCU requested use of the stadium, with lights, for club and intramural teams until 11 p.m. and extended use of the stadium for more night events.
However, the University is satisfied with the outcome.
“The entire team of folks who worked on this are pleased with the outcome. It’s not all we wanted, but we’re pleased,” said Dora Pruce, director of government and community relations at JCU.
Pruce said what they wanted was flexibility and this allows for some.
“We’re happy – I think this is a significant improvement,” Pruce said.
The agreement goes into effect immediately.