Ground is expected to be broken before the end of the year in the first phase of the controversial stadium project at Reynolds High School, supporters say.
Home Field Advantage, the nonprofit created to bring a football stadium to the Reynolds campus, presented plans for a practice field at the latest meeting of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education’s building and grounds committee. The committee gave the group the go-ahead to seek bids for the work.
“This is one component of the entire project that everybody seems to agree we need,” said John Davenport, chair of the committee. “We’re pleased they were able to pull that together. Even if they don’t get any further, this will definitely benefit the students at Reynolds.”
While some sports teams practice at Hanes Park, the school itself does not have practice fields. Some teams practice and play games at facilities off the school campus. The proposed practice field will sit on Reynolda Road between Northwest Boulevard and Buena Vista Road. It will be about one and a half times the length of a traditional football field and allow for more than one team to practice on campus at the same time, said Kathryn Spanos, the president of Home Field Advantage.
“It will be great because kids won’t have to leave campus,” Spanos said. “We’d like to keep as many kids as possible (from) having to get in cars and drive all over town.”
The stadium project was met with opposition when it was proposed to the school board and city. Neighbors in the surrounding communities expressed concerns about traffic and the impact to Hanes Park. An opposition group, Save Hanes Park, developed and collected more than 2,500 signatures to oppose the stadium.
John Coyne, a spokesman for Save Hanes Park, said the group is still opposed to the stadium but does not object to the practice field.
“The practice fields they’re putting in make a lot of sense,” Coyne said. “That meets their needs a lot more than the stadium does.”
Construction on the practice field could get underway within the next month, Spanos said. The group is waiting on one last permit from the city and the final bids. The group has already had a survey and flood study completed on the site.
The bids will be taken to the next building and grounds committee meeting for approval, where the group will need to provide proof it has raised enough to pay for that portion of the project. Spanos said the practice field will cost between $100,000 and $150,000. She said the group has raised that money already. Once the committee signs off on the plans, contractor and funding construction can begin.
Originally, the group hoped to have the practice field completed for the start of the 2013-14 school year. Spanos said construction requirements like surveys, studies and permits took longer to obtain than expected.
“We just are trying to get one step at a time,” she said.
The practice field is the first phase of Home Field Advantage’s proposed project. The second, much larger, phase will involve demolition of the Wiley Middle School gym, renovation of an existing Reynolds gym, construction of a new Wiley gym and the stadium itself. Spanos said that project is expected to cost between $6 million and $7 million. The majority of that funding will come from selling the naming rights to the new stadium, she said. While there was originally talk of getting the stadium ready for the 2014-15 school year, Spanos said the group underestimated how long it took for permitting and other processes. That early completion date is unlikely at this point, she said.
“Ideally, that would be great but I don’t know if logistically that will be possible because everything takes so long,” Spanos said. “The sooner we can get it, the better. The need has been there all along, and it’s not going to go away. We’re hoping we’ll reach our goal and get busy as soon as we can.”