As has become tradition, Loyola Academy football is continuing its season well into November.
The regular fall occurrence comes with a sub-tradition: the Wilmette high school installing temporary stadium lights to support the football team’s practices in the waning daylight of autumn.
The Wilmette Village Board OK’d Loyola’s request during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 8, and the football team will utilize three portable spotlights in the early evening (until 6 p.m.) for up to five days: Nov. 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17.
Loyola’s Sachs Stadium does not have permanent lights. While many Illinois high school football games are played under the lights on Friday evenings, Loyola hosts its contests on Saturday afternoons, a custom that continues into the postseason, like this Saturday, Nov. 12, against Lyons Township in an IHSA Class 8A quarterfinal.
Other Loyola athletic programs that compete on a rectangular field — such as soccer, field hockey and lacrosse — host night games at Loyola’s Munz Campus in Glenview.
Loyola Academy Executive Vice President Dennis Stonequist said lights at Sachs Stadium is a benefit to the entire student body, including band members and student fans. Installing permanent lights is a topic of discussion every year, he said; however, Loyola “is not there yet.”
Wilmette Village Manager Mike Braiman said while Loyola has not applied for any permit to install lights, school officials have indicted to the village an intention to do so at some point. Braiman said he does not recall Loyola Academy ever requesting permanent lights.
Stonequist said a lot of pieces must fall into place before stadium lights become an official goal of the school. The most significant piece, he said, is communication and coordination with the school’s Wilmette neighbors.
“When and if we do decide to apply (through the village), we will work with the village and the neighbors,” Stonequist said, “just like the pool and the theater projects, which were completely successful because we established a relationship with our neighbors.”
Other necessary pieces prior to application include a green light from the school’s board of directors, which meets quarterly, and success in certain fundraising benchmarks. Stonequist said if all the pieces fall into place this year, Loyola Academy “will know by December” if it will pursue permanent lights and eventually submit an application to the Village of Wilmette.
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