Portland school and parks leaders announce agreement shifting control of Grant Bowl athletic fields

By Rob Manning (OPB)
Feb. 10, 2024 2:07 a.m.

The turf field, which has been closed for repairs since last August, would be managed by Portland Public Schools under the proposal.

The Grant High School football field in Northeast Portland, photographed on Aug. 13, 2023, has been closed because of concerns about its condition.

The Grant High School football field in Northeast Portland, photographed on Aug. 13, 2023, has been closed because of concerns about its condition.

Rob Manning / OPB

Officials from two government agencies with a shared interest in a popular athletic facility in Northeast Portland say they’ve reached an agreement on how to manage the recently problematic property.

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According to a press release sent by the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau, the Portland Public Schools board will vote on the agreement on Feb. 20. Officials at PP&R and PPS were not able to provide the actual agreement to OPB by the end of the day Friday.

The track and athletic field, known as the Grant Bowl, has been surrounded by chain-link fence and warning signs for weeks and been largely unavailable for longer than that, after the grounds were deemed unsafe by inspectors last August.

Related: Portland’s Grant High School field closed after failing inspection, as fall sports season approaches

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Management of the facility is complicated, as it’s part of the city of Portland’s Grant Park, but is immediately adjacent to Grant High School. Grant High athletes and community members have regularly used the all-weather track and turf field for years.

A week after inspectors closed the field last summer, officials with Portland Public Schools and the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau signaled they would work together to repair the field and return it to safe operation by fall 2024.

Related: Portland Parks, schools agree to replace Grant field in time for 2024 fall sports

Friday’s announcement from PP&R lays out the basics of the deal between the city parks bureau and the state’s largest school district. Under the deal, PPS will “lease the Grant Bowl, track, and upper sports fields from PP&R and PPS will be responsible for the renovation, upkeep, and maintenance” of the areas covered by the lease, the press release said. That means permits and inspections will be the responsibility of the school district, rather than the parks bureau.

Inspectors closed the field after they determined it lacked the cushion necessary to protect student-athletes. While the all-weather track surrounding the field was deemed safe to run on, it’s also been inaccessible in recent weeks, with fencing in place and work crews staging materials nearby.

The turf field was last upgraded more than 10 years ago, with the understanding that it would only last about 8-10 years. Officials have recently characterized use of the site as “particularly heavy.” In late 2022, inspectors working for the parks bureau warned officials that the field was failing.

The closure last August came just as Grant High’s fall sports season, including football, was about to start.

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