Field Day for Lowell Catholic, City on Manning Field Makeover
LOWELL -- As the Lowell Catholic High School’s athletic program has expanded during the past several years, securing outdoor venues for their fall and spring sports has been a major challenge.
At the same time, Manning Field on Boston Road has been underutilized, and needs both maintenance and upgrades.
Both problems will soon be addressed, officials say, through a partnership between the city and Lowell Catholic.
The city is entering into a 99-year sponsorship agreement with Lowell Catholic for the proposed Manning Field Complex, located across from Edson Cemetery in South Lowell.
Lowell Catholic will use the existing softball fields, and add such uses as soccer/lacrosse fields and a cross-country trail. The fields will be improved, and the public will still be able to use the space.
“It’s a win-win situation for the city and the school,” Mayor Bill Samaras said.
Lowell Catholic Project Manager Gerry Foley said this site, two miles from campus, is a perfect fit .
“It’s all about that private-public partnership, where someone has a vested interest in making sure the fields are well maintained,” Foley said. “We’re looking forward to the partnership.”
In February, the city issued a request for proposal (RFP), seeking proposals to provide a sponsorship for the Manning Field Complex. City Manager Eileen Donoghue said Lowell Catholic’s proposal was the most advantageous.
Lowell Catholic has proposed seeking private funding and grants for materials to improve the site, including parking. It also will work with the city to share in the cost of other services to improve the athletic complex.
“The plan in the end is going to benefit the city,” Donoghue said.
Lowell Catholic is located in the Highlands at 530 Stevens St. Its athletes play at an array of venues. Softball is played at Manning Field, while soccer and lacrosse games are held at Gage Field in Centralville. Baseball games are held at Hadley Field in the Highlands.
Football players and cross-country runners travel to Chelmsford High School for home games and meets.
Under the sponsorship agreement, the Manning Field Complex would include two natural turf fields for soccer and lacrosse teams. There would also be a new relocated parking lot southwest of the softball fields, and graded trails through the wooded section of the property.
These improvements are set to occur in the next four years, and will require approvals from the Planning Board and Conservation Commission.
“The contractor (Lowell Catholic) agrees to maintain all playing fields and grounds currently existing and to be constructed at its expense,” reads the sponsorship agreement between the school and city.
The Manning Field property would be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the fall and spring, and all day from the third week of June through the second week in August.
Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun