War Memorial Stadium – The look inside

During the most recent (pdf file) meeting of the War Memorial Stadium Task Force, we dealt with what might happen under the stands within the various renovation scenarios. We also refined some aspects of the three seating capacity scenarios I showed you last week. Here is a picture showing the latest rendition of the 2500 seat scenario in which the ‘stadium within a city park’ idea is expanded upon.
WMS Option 3(Click on thumbnail for larger image)

The dark red portion of the original stadium would be demolished except for the exterior wall. Behind that wall a new structure is proposed that will house new restrooms, home-team locker rooms, indoor batting cages and an umpire dressing room. Like this… (again… click)

WMS Inside program.JPG

The yellow area under the existing structure would be renovated to house the visiting team locker room and a new concession area. In addition, the design team proposes to really open up the lobby area underneath the original stadium and creating an extraordinary space just inside the stadium’s grand facade. This interior space (light yellow) would be an extension of the new outdoor plaza depicted in Scenario 3 above.

When some on the committee saw how great this space could be, the discussion turned to ways the public might use it year ’round. One of the most appealing ideas, and one the architects will propose at the next meeting, is to make it available as a meeting/function space. If this is to be considered, an on-site ‘catering kitchen’ will be a must. There is room for such a facility under the old portion of the stadium that will hopefully remain and be renovated down third base.

The other new drawing from the meeting is of the how the three proposed seating capacities would be laid out.WMS Seating Options.JPG (Click to enlarge)

Most everyone in the room is against the 1500 seat option, mainly because too much of the original stadium’s footprint would be demolished and not rebuilt. The 2000 seat option would leave more of the stadium intact, but limit the number of actual available seats. (For example, the entire center/covered area would be renovated, but no seats would be replaced on the upper tiers.) By limiting the seating capacity in this way, there would be no need to provide the number of toilets, parking spaces and other facilities/amenities that the building code would require. These things cost a lot of money.

From my perspective, the highest and best use of WMS for the next 50 years is the 2500 seat option shown above. Even though a large part of the original bowl (down third base) would be demolished and not replaced, this option would provide for an additional pedestrian plaza that will be accessible to people walking through the proposed park around the stadium and surrounding area. But, of course, this will be the most expensive option to pursue.

Of course everyone is wondering how much all of this will cost and we should have some answers soon. By the next meeting, the architects will provide estimated price tags for all three options. Once these are in hand, the proposals should be about ready to present to our City Council. It will be up to them to decide which option to present to the voters for funding this November. (It better be the 2500 seat scenario, guys – I’ve about compromised all I have the stomach for).

I don’t mind telling you, I’m going for the whole enchilada here. I am reserving much of my civic time during the November election season to be THE citizen advocate for this project. I fully expect to attend every community event that will have me in an effort to convince every voter that War Memorial Stadium is worth every penny of the millions of dollars it will likely cost to get one of Greensboro’s most important landmarks into shape for future generations to enjoy.

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