The idea of speakers pointed toward their houses and increased traffic on their streets has some Rosewood residents worried about Memorial Stadium’s upgrades. They say the renovations began before they were consulted.
By Elizabeth Bock, Quintara Hatten
April 11, 2018
Memorial Stadium, where area high school students have played sports for 58 years, is now just mounds of dirt and debris. But its Rosewood neighbors can already hear the cheering crowds next fall after the stadium is renovated – and they’re not pleased.
Friday night lights is nothing new for the neighbors, but with the stadium’s 350 new seats and redirected sound system, some of those living nearby, like Mike Miller, worry they could practically have a marching band in their living rooms.
Miller, president of the Rosewood Community Council who lives a block from the stadium, said he could already hear the sound system when its speakers pointed into the woods behind the stadium. Richland School District 1, the stadium’s owner, plans to flip the speakers toward the street.
“If they move it to where it’s pointing directly toward the neighborhood, it’s only going to be worse,” Miller said
The stadium, built in 1960 at South Holly Street and Airport Boulevard, is lined by houses on three sides and the woods on the fourth. Neighbors can practically watch football games, track meets and other sporting events from their driveways.
Richland 1 has said the number of events at the stadium, which will have 5,000 seats after the $6.7 million renovation, will remain about the same. Residents are wary.
“I really can’t see them spending $5 or 6 million on a stadium and not use it as much as they can,” Miller said.
Some residents say they don’t trust Richland 1 because they didn’t even find out about the renovations until a Rosewood Community Council meeting in mid-January – after bulldozers had already leveled the old stadium. And some weren’t impressed with how the school district officials handled it.
“It was: here it is, here’s the design, have a nice day,” said Scott Sylvester, who has lived two blocks from the stadium for fifteen years.
“We completely support the initiative to improve the facility for the kids, but we don’t appreciate the fact that there was no prior involvement of the community,” he said.
Mike Ely, who lives in the 800 block of South Holly, also two blocks from the stadium, said the renovations started “before most of the neighborhood knew that anything was happening.”
“Richland 1 dropped the ball on this one,” Ely said.
Raymond Perkins, the district’s facility services director, said he was somewhat surprised by the reactions, especially because the community has been neighbors with the stadium for 58 years.
“In an existing venue, we did not anticipate as much of that that we heard that night, but those are concerns that we have to take into consideration,” Perkins said.
According to residents, Raymond Perkins and other members of the district’s board have met with residents to discuss concerns regarding the renovation plans. The official groundbreaking for the renovations was April 10.
Memorial Stadium is among four stadiums to be renovated as part of a $40 million package of athletic facilities improvements across the district approved in 2015.
Ely thinks the district should have tried to work with the stadium’s neighbors before renovations began.
“District 1 is really missing an opportunity to incorporate the stadium into the community with new sidewalks, crosswalks, better lighting, traffic calming and well-directed sound,” Ely said.
Traffic, particularly at the South Holly-Montgomery Road and South Holly-Airport Boulevard intersections, is one of his main concerns.
More seats could mean more traffic. That, mixed with inexperienced teenage drivers and dozens of people crossing the street could pose a dangerous situation, Ely said.
“It’s really a miracle that there aren’t more crashes,” he said.