Alumni game location settled

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Agreement reached to bring alumni game back to Monett

The power of persistence and a willingness to compromise has allowed an agreement to be reached between the Monett school district and Alumni Football USA to use Burl Fowler Stadium for the Monett-Cassville Alumni football game.

What this means for Cassville fans is that they will play June 24, at 7 p.m. in Monett instead of at Mt. Vernon.

Rodney Rambo, who heads the Cassville Alumni Team said the group still has openings for players.

“Right now we have 20 on our roster,” Rambo said. “i encourage guy to call or email me and i’ll catch them up. We want you to play and are excited.”

The Cassville team practices on Monday’s and Thursday’s from 6-8 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the high school practice field.

Rambo can be reached at rodenyrambo@gmail.com.

“No one on the school board or myself was opposed to the game itself,” said Brad Hanson, Monett superintendent. “As district leader, I have a responsibility to protect the district from the possibility of harm. By the nature of the event, I wanted to make sure that the school district was free from any liability [should there be an injury and resulting lawsuit]. We are pleased with the compromise and the school board was comfortable about revisiting the subject of the event.”

According to Hanson, Alumni Football USA and CEO Bob Cazet agreed to sign a special use permit tailored for this event.

The agreement has three specific points that separate it from the school’s traditional facility use agreements:

1. Alumni Football USA clearly states that school district and its employees are not involved. Any advertisement for the event must now state: “This event is neither sponsored nor endorsed by the Monett R-I School District.”

2. Cazet also agreed to be prosecuted in the Circuit Court of Barry County or the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Southern Division, should a lawsuit be filed.

3. Alumni Football USA and Cazet also agreed “to protect, indemnify, save and keep harmless the Monett R-I School District, its officers, board members, employees and representatives against and from any and all loss, cost, damage or expense, arising out of or from any personal injuries or lessee’s negligence or other occurrence on or about the leased premises.”

Cazet signed the agreement and returned it to Hanson on Wednesday.

The discussion was brought back up as a non-agenda item after the closed session at the school board meeting on Thursday night.

“Our attorney is just trying to protect the school district,” Hanson said at the meeting. “Since this is our attorney’s concern, there won’t be a school board vote because there is nothing to vote on.”

Hanson reconfirmed the agreement with the district’s attorney, Ransom Ellis III, on Friday morning and received an “all-clear” to allow the event to take place.

“We’ve played over 1,200 of these games without any incident,” Cazet said. “Yes, we had to jump through a couple of extra hoops at Monett, but I just wanted to do right by the players. This event, I believe, is going to bring these communities together and now all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed.”

A roller-coaster location ride unfolded with the group originally for June 23 at Burl Fowler Stadium. A $200 fee had been paid to secure the facility, and the teams had been notified. However, based on Ellis’ advice, the district chose to back out of allowing the game to be contested on school premises.

The use of Cassville’s football field was ruled out due to the district not wanting to disturb the turf prior to the high school football season.

“Daryl Bradley, [Monett athletic director], brought the game [idea] to me and I thought it was something that our attorney should take a look at,” Hanson said. “It was his opinion that the school should not get involved and that the event posed too much risk for the district.”

Hanson said he informed the school board of the attorney’s recommendation, and they agreed that it would be in the district’s best interest not to serve as the host site.

The game was then moved to Mt. Vernon for June 24, which prompted the nearly 50 Monett alumni signed up for the game to reach out to the school board for reconsideration.

Eric Norris, Monett’s team captain, said he could understand the school board being leery of the situation with Cazet based out of California, and a possible feeling that this was a fly-by-night operation. But he also stressed that Monett has 50 alumni committed to play in the game and for a company that has hosted over a thousand of these games before.

“We’ve been working with the Monett Booster Club and coordinating with them to run the concession stand, sell tickets and a program and letting them keep those funds,” Norris said. “We can see this event turning into an all-school reunion situation, and the guys want to play at their home stadium. We don’t want Mt. Vernon to get all of our money. We are Cubs, and we would like to play on our home turf.”

With the reconsideration and agreement, Norris and the Alumni Cubs are just like Hannibal Smith from The “A” Team — loving when a plan comes together.

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