Stadium debate increases in intensity

Opponents of an on-campus stadium for Reynolds High School have posted ‘Save Hanes Park’ signs around the neighborhood. PHOTO BY ABBEY FRAIL

Bumper stickers promoting the construction of a stadium for Reynolds to have on its campus can be seen throughout the school parking lot. PHOTO BY MADISON WATTS

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.”

10 thoughts on “Stadium debate increases in intensity

  1. From the Home Field Advantage Facebook page: 7 Misconceptions About the Stadium

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    1 “The stadium will destroy Hanes Park.”
    The proposed stadium site is not in the park, but on WS/FCS property. The running track, tennis courts, playground, soccer fields and baseball fields will not be altered in any way with the addition of the stadium. The proposed site is adjacent to the park and every effort is being make to make sure the stadium will be an positive addition to the area keeping the history of the schools and the park in mind.

    2 “The stadium will cost taxpayers money”
    The stadium will be built entirely with private funds. The long-term maintenance of the facility will be the responsibility of the WS/FCS but most will be covered by funds currently allocated to the multiple facilities R.J. Reynolds High School is required to use as a result of not having a home field.

    3 “The stadium will be controlled by a private group once it’s built.”
    Once built, the stadium will be the property of the WS/FC Schools and use of the stadium for anything other than school activities will be at the discretion of the WS/FCS School Board as it is with other school property.

    4 “The stadium takes away from education.”
    The funds raised to build the stadium will be from private donors and not from public money earmarked for educational programs, teacher salaries, books, etc. In addition, no private funds will be diverted from education to the stadium.

    5 “The stadium lights will be too bright.”
    Currently the Hanes Park tennis court lights in the center of the park, are on all week, year round until approximately 10:00 pm. The lights at the stadium will be used on average approximately once a week and will utilize the latest lighting technology which creates less glare and are more energy efficient than older lights.

    6 “The stadium doesn’t offer adequate parking.”
    A preliminary parking study shows that there is parking available for 1100 – 2200 cars within 1/3 of a mile radius. Car to person ratio is well within the current city requirements. Parking can be accommodated on site and in nearby shared parking lots and not require parking on streets in area neighborhoods.

    7 “The stadium will use up valuable public green space.”
    The site of the proposed stadium is currently occupied by a school bus parking lot, old school trailers, and sloping land that is degrading from water run off. This land is not currently utilized by Wiley Middle School or R.J. Reynolds High School students. Since the property for the proposed stadium is on land owned by the school system, it is not considered public land or park land, therefore Hanes Park green space is not being used.

  2. I enjoy being kept up to date on the events of the Home Stadium movement. As a student at RJR a home stadium would be a great addition to our school, almost necessary even. A huge part of the high school experience is the home advantage, something we as RJR students don’t have.

  3. This is a good article. The stadium is a good idea and should be allowed. Who cares about a little traffic. This new stadium will do so much for the Reynolds community.

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