HomeCherry Hill NewsLong time coming: East stadium upgrades mean games 'under the lights'

Long time coming: East stadium upgrades mean games ‘under the lights’

Inaugural 'under the lights' game was played between Cherry Hill East Boys Lacrosse and West Deptford on April 29.

Emily Liu/The Sun
Cherry Hill East holds a ribbon cutting for the new stadium renovations, part of a $363-million bond referendum..

Cherry Hill East celebrated completion of $2.6 million in stadium renovations at a ribbon cutting on April 29 that took place just before an “under the lights” evening lacrosse game between boys at East and West Deptford High School.

Part of a $363-million bond referendum passed in 2022, the long-awaited upgrades were prompted by students at a town hall who focused on the stadium’s lack of lights, according to Superintendent Dr. Kwame Morton.

- Advertisement -

“Our kids deserve it,” he noted at a recent board of education meeting. “You had to see the pride in our children there yesterday (at the ribbon cutting). There was a palpable energy on the field and in that area, and this conversation has been a long time coming.

“It’s just wonderful to understand all that it took to allow for this stadium project to come to pass,” Morton added, “and all of the other projects that you’ll see as well over the next couple of years.”

Along with the lights that enabled the evening lacrosse match, stadium renovations include new longer, safer and more accessible bleachers and a new press box. Prior to the upgrades, students at East played some home games at Cherry Hill West before switching to home matches at their own school on Saturday mornings to avoid playing in darkness.

Mike Beirao, district director of athletics, recounted some of the issues around playing without lights.

“One of the challenges is that 90% of our games are at 3:45 p.m.,” he explained. “For our parents … if they’re working and all those things, it gives them an opportunity to see your kid play at a normal time, whereas before, we would never be able to schedule these because we were scared to death of the lights getting dark too early.”

Since there are only two laacrosse fields – one at East, one at West – Beirao said it was difficult to schedule games when West’s stadium was occupied and East’s was dark. For some matches, not having lights meant the latter’s games had to end early to avoid playing in the dark.

Both Beirao and Morton are hopeful that the ability to hold Friday night games will also foster community pride and spirit.

“When you have a nice facility, people really have pride,” Beirao said. “Not only in their teams, but in their community, and they’re proud of their school. When you have a falling down building with a roof falling off? Nobody cares.

“So I think when people walk down here and they see the hard work that has gone into the stadium,” he added, ”and the thought and the details that really make it, it’s going to be a really premier place for high-school sports.”


Stay Connected

- Advertisment -

Current Issue