By Joe Wilson, Pine Whispers
Under the stadium lights, the football team battles against its opponent while the Rowdies and other fans roar and cheer their Demons to victory.
The scene is a familiar one to Reynolds students – students from any high school anywhere, really – but one aspect of the Friday night experience may soon change dramatically. A plan to construct a new home stadium has been in the works since last year. It has been met with enthusiastic support by many in the “Home Field Advantage” campaign and with stark disapproval by others who support the “Save Hanes Park” movement.
Sophomore Arjun Patel plays football for Reynolds and supports the idea of a new stadium rather than having Demon athletic teams compete at Deaton-Thompson Stadium or Bolton Field.
“It would give the team a true home-game experience instead of driving out on a bus to each home game,” Patel said.
On the other side of the argument is Phoebe Zerwick, a neighbor of Hanes Park and a mother of a Reynolds student.
“I think a new stadium would just add another big structure to a beautiful place,” Zerwick said. “It would obstruct the view of the park and of Wiley (Middle), which is a beautiful and historic school.”
Zerwick said there are better solutions for providing sports fields for Reynolds.
Frank Johnson, a leader in the stadium movement, said that building a stadium would add to the beauty of Hanes Park rather than detract from it.
“We don’t want to build a monstrosity,” Johnson said. “We would be building in an architectural style that would complement Wiley and Reynolds.”
Johnson, a member of the Reynolds Alumni Association, said the main reason he supports a stadium on campus is for the alumni.
“Often, Reynolds alumni would like to go to games, but are deterred by the location of the stadium,” Johnson said. “They didn’t have games there when many alumni attended Reynolds, so there is no feeling of nostalgia.”
Johnson said he would love to see former students have picnics and tailgates as they look around campus and reminisce about their school days.
The arguments about the pros and cons of the plan are numerous, and opponents point to months of construction during the building of a new stadium, traffic in the neighborhood on Friday nights and during other major sporting events and increasing costs for upkeep of a new stadium such as the one being planned.
“It’s widely used by people all over the city, by kids who play on the playground, by neighbors who enjoy walking amid the scenery, by all kinds of groups and organizations that need a place to work in,” Zerwick said of Hanes Park. “It’s really an asset to the whole city, not just the neighborhood.”