Veterans Memorial Stadium was once ‘center of the universe in Oak Harbor’

After about a year of work, Veterans Memorial Stadium is open and ready for community use.


Special to the News-Times

After about a year of work, Veterans Memorial Stadium is open and ready for community use.

The Oak Harbor School District completed a $20,000 renovation project that including reseeding and leveling the playing field as well as replacing the sprinklers.

“The renovation and reopening of Veterans Memorial Stadium came to fruition through the community’s collective voice and feedback about the need for additional field space,” Dr. Michelle Kuss-Cybula, superintendent of Oak Harbor Public Schools, said in a press release. “We were fortunate enough to be able to make it happen for our community. By investing a small amount into the playing fields, we hope it will serve as a resource for the children of Oak Harbor to foster connections and build recreational opportunities for Oak Harbor.”

School District Communications Officer Sarah Foy said in an email that while the school district would provide routine maintenance on the fields annually, there hasn’t been any renovation at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium since the opening of Wildcat Memorial Stadium.

Veteran’s Memorial Stadium opened in 1947 and was dedicated by school board member Lyle Muzzall, said state Sen. Ron Muzzall, who is Lyle’s grandson.

Ron’s uncle, Murray, was killed in the South Pacific in 1945.

“I think it’s a great memorial,” Ron Muzzall said.

Ron graduated from Oak Harbor High School and saw his brother play football at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“At one time, it was the center of the universe in Oak Harbor,” Muzzall said.

Dwight Lundstrom, current assistant superintendent and former principal at the high school, noted the fans would be almost on top of the team when they played at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium, which lacked a track surrounding the field.

“It definitely made for a different feel for Friday night lights,” Lundstrom said.

He said the football team had successful seasons when Dave Ward was coach. The Wildcats won against Cascade, which was a team they hadn’t beat in years and years. He also recalled a triple-overtime game against Marysville Pilchuck.

“It had a hometown feel,” Lundstrom said of Veteran’s Memorial Stadium.

Oak Harbor won the 4A state football championship in 2006. By that time, the bleachers at the Veteran’s Memorial Stadium were condemned and removed. Because of a lack of seating and a grass field instead turf field, Oak Harbor couldn’t host a home playoff football game during their championship season, Lundstrom said. Playoff games were played in Mount Vernon.

Wildcat Memorial Stadium, which was funded with a voter-approved bond, opened at the high school in 2007.

Newly reopened Veteran’s Memorial Stadium provides a lighted field for the community. Its original lights are still in use, Lundstrom said.

“The struggle for the community is there is no place to play at night,” Lundstrom said.

The money for the renovation comes from the school district’s capital project budget, Foy said. The school district received feedback from residents about the need for more field space. After evaluating options, she added that the renovations were cost effective and make the most impact.

Veteran’s Memorial Stadium is available for rental through the Oak Harbor School District website ( Foy said that community groups have submitted requests to use the field, including the North Whidbey Soccer League.