De La Salle Collegiate defeated Oak Park 26-20 in overtime on Jan. 16 in a Division 2 state semifinal playoff game.

De La Salle Collegiate defeated Oak Park 26-20 in overtime on Jan. 16 in a Division 2 state semifinal playoff game.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

De La Salle wins after city grants waiver for game at school

Legal settlement banned varsity football games amid concerns about noise, parking

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published January 22, 2021


WARREN — They built it and the fans came, officially limited to 125 for each team. De La Salle Collegiate hosted a one-off varsity football home playoff game at the school’s new St. John Baptist de La Salle Field on Jan. 16 and won 26-20 in overtime.

They first needed permission from the Warren City Council to play the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 semifinal contest against Oak Park. That’s because a consent judgement that ended litigation between the school and the city of Warren in 2018 included a ban on varsity games at the site.

The City Council met for a special Friday afternoon meeting on Jan. 15, where its members voted 5-1 to let the Pilots play the game.

The school typically hosts varsity home games at Wayne State University. The university’s closure due to COVID-19, the lack of available high school athletic facilities elsewhere this time of year and the MHSAA’s decision to resume the state football playoffs in January left school officials looking for a place to play the game.

“We found out on Sunday (Jan. 10) that we would be the home team and we’ve been trying to figure out how to work through this administratively with the city,” said Benjamin Aloia, an attorney representing De La Salle.

Before the council’s vote on the waiver, Aloia told them that the school was “taking parking enforcement seriously,” and that it could accommodate 700 vehicles on its property. He estimated that between 300 and 350 people, including players and coaches, would attend the game. State of Michigan COVID-19 guidelines for athletics limit spectators to 250 people.

Reading a resolution granting a one-time waiver prior to the vote, City Council Secretary Mindy Moore said the consent judgement settled legal action filed by De La Salle against the city in June 2018 after the Warren Planning Commission denied the school’s proposed site plan for improvements at the field.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said he did not object to the one-time waiver but said residents had previously expressed concerns about noise and parking in the neighborhood around the school, on Common Road between Schoenherr and Hayes roads.

Council member Angela Rogensues cast the lone vote against amending the judgement to permit the varsity game. De La Salle’s freshman and junior varsity football teams began using the upgraded field last fall amid the state-mandated COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time.  

Given continued concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, Rogensues said she was uncomfortable about the influx of spectators from outside of Warren attending the game.

Others seemed satisfied with the safety guidelines put in place by the state and the school.

“I’m a neighbor, this is my district,” Councilman Garry Watts said. “I’m right around the corner from De La Salle. I appreciate what a great neighbor they are, how they take care of their property and how they addressed the issue. I’ll be happy to vote for this on a one-time basis.”