In Tuesday’s W-S/Forsyth County School Board meeting the hopes of stadium boosters at RJR High School were incrementally encouraged by a 5-3 vote which allowed RJR Home Field Advantage to go ahead, form a 501c(3) and begin fund-raising for stadium construction. The vote pushed the ball down the field a few inches and amounts to a first down. Board member Buddy Collins, noted with apparent fatigue, that a RJR football stadium has been in some sort of discussion for “80 years”.
Even the commissioners who voted for allowing the fund-raising to move forward seem less than convinced about the current plan being presented by Home Field Advantage. Even if Home Field Advantage is able to raise the $6 to $9 million dollars needed for the project they will have to return to the school board (with ALL of the funds residing in a bank account) with a detailed site plan which will then be up for approval by whomever is on the board at that time. Commissioner Donnie Lambeth is already going to have to leave before the end of the year and the whole board is up for re-election in 2014.
One issue noted by board members who voted to allow the fund-raising and those who voted against was the fact that according to the stadium boosters themselves the real need at RJR High-School are practice fields. An astro-turf stadium like the one proposed does not lend itself to also being used as a practice field. Doing so would greatly increase the maintenance cost and possible long-term financial liabilities of the astro-turf playing surface. Liabilities which will be picked up by the school system when the stadium is constructed.
The plan tentatively approved by the school board last night (C below) will allow for the addition of a single practice field. According to boosters presentations, their major reason for wanting the stadium was the 13,549 miles a school-year driven by their young athletes to and from practice. None of the site plans suggested thus far, including last night’s winner, will make a major dent in that number. Several board members showed intentions to return to the practice field issue once Home Filed Advantage comes back with their money in the bank. Nothing is truly settled about the stadium, but the momentum and the opportunity are now with Home Field Advantage.