Stormy Fridays spell trouble for high school athletics

The New Palestine game was postponed due to rain a few weeks ago.

Rain has repeatedly fallen on the Friday night lights this Operation Football season.

Games have been stopped and even canceled because of severe weather. No one is complaining about taking safety measures, but there is a financial impact on school districts.

Eyewitness News asked athletic directors across our area about the financial impact of postponements.

More than 20 responded, and about 66 percent of them say they have taken a hit and lost thousands of dollars in revenue. That's money student athletes count on.

Severe weather is 2-0 at Plainfield High School, where threatening storms and dangerous lightning have wreaked havoc on their home football schedule and Friday night profits.

"It just seems Friday's sound like this," said Plainfield Athletic Director Dana Greene as thunder rumbled and rain fell from the sky.

"We only have four home games this year so it's really taken its toll," he added.

Greene estimates a loss of 50 percent in gate sales alone. Planned purchases could be in jeopardy.

"I've got a few purchase orders on my desk right now that I've got to put on hold because of what's happened," he said.

Plainfield is not alone. Athletic directors all across central Indiana are concerned because varsity high school football is one of the biggest money makers. That money helps fund all other sports programs.

Those canceled games on Friday September 7th and 21st have resulted in ticket sale losses from 20 percent at Mooresville all the way up to 70 and 80 percent at Lapel, Cascade and New Palestine.

Ben Davis Athletic Director John Clark keeps a severe weather detector available. He hasn't seen this many cancellations in 41 years in high school athletics.

"Never two in a year," he told Eyewitness News.

Some of the biggest losses are coming on the biggest nights of high school football. Not just big rivalry match ups, but things like homecoming and senior night. Compared to previous years, schools are reporting anywhere from a $5,000 to $8,000 loss.

Powerhouse Center Grove took a weather beating on homecoming, reporting an $8,000 loss,  the highest there in ten years.

The undefeated Brownsburg Bulldogs were down $7,000 on their homecoming.

Southport, Elwood, Guerin Catholic and Mt. Vernon also feeling the pain of lost concession profits from $6,000 down to $4,000.

"It means you have to tighten your budget. You have to look for other ways to fund programs," said Clark. He says schools are very sensitive about raising game prices and will try to find ways to recover.

Programs like Ben Davis that were on road trips during bad weather face some extra costs for transportation and team meals. They also lose some fan support because of those Saturday make-up games.