WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Work began this week on clearing land for a practice field for Reynolds High School’s athletic program, the first phase of the controversial stadium project.
Home Field Advantage, the nonprofit created to bring a football stadium to the Reynolds campus, gained approval for the practice field Tuesday from the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education.
The field will sit on Reynolda Road between Northwest Boulevard and Buena Vista Road.
The group had to prove it had in hand the amount of money necessary for the project, about $97,000.
Darrell Walker, the school system’s assistant superintendent of operations, said that Home Field Advantage is managing the project, but is seeking the system’s guidance. He said that no school system money is involved.
Stan Dean, a spokesman for Home Field Advantage, said Friday that the goal is to begin sowing grass seed by June 1 so that the field is available for use by Aug. 1 — the traditional start date for fall high school sports.
“We’re hoping that this will be a case of seeing-is-believing for potential donors,” Dean said.
The project’s larger second phase will involve demolition of the Wiley Middle School gym, renovation of an existing Reynolds gym, construction of a new Wiley gym and building the stadium itself.
Kathryn Spanos, the group’s president, said that entire project is expected to cost between $6 million and $7 million. The majority of the financing will come from selling the naming rights to the stadium, she said.
Some neighbors in the surrounding communities have expressed concerns about traffic and the impact on Hanes Park. An opposition group, Save Hanes Park, collected more than 2,500 signatures in opposition to the stadium.
John Coyne, a spokesman for Save Hanes Park, said in October that the group does not object to the practice field “because it makes a lot of sense. That meets their needs a lot more than the stadium does.”
Although some teams practice at Hanes Park, the school itself does not have practice fields. Some teams practice and play games at facilities off campus.
The teams most likely to benefit from the practice field are field hockey, boys and girls lacrosse, and boys and girls soccer.
Dean said that no games will be held at the field because it will not have the required regulation width for those sports. It will be about 1½ times the length of a traditional football field to allow for more than one team to practice on the field at the same time, Spanos said.
Dean said that Home Field Advantage is talking to individual donors about the stadium project. The goal is holding a kickoff/dedication event at the practice field for the community fundraising effort.