Frequently Asked Questions: Written in 2012, *Updated in 2013, 2016, and 2017.
Q: Is the proposed stadium on Hanes Park property?
A: No. It is on school property. The proposed site is within Park boundaries as defined by PH Hanes on land originally gifted to the people of Winston Salem. (Please see the original deed; page 1 defines the boundaries of Hanes Park, page 2 sets terms and conditions of the gift.) In 1963, the City deeded land around Wiley Middle to the school system when city and county schools merged to create the WSFCS.
Q: How would the stadium affect Hanes Park if not on city property?
A: The effects are many
- The proposed plan builds to the edge of the park line: Tall fences, retaining walls and the back of the bleachers would be constructed forming 12ft to 24ft barriers between the historic park and our historic schools. It would also create a deep canyon at the edge of the tennis courts. Just as an inappropriate development within feet of your house would be harmful, this likewise harms Hanes Park.
- 2 Busy roads would be introduced: 1) A proposed drop-off loop, entering from Northwest Blvd., parallel to Hawthorne Rd, has been proposed in versions of HFA plans. 2) A proposed road also entering from Northwest Blvd, following the Park property line parallel to the tennis courts would be built to form a second drop-off, has been included in some early plans and removed from others.*
- Traffic would significantly impact pedestrians and runners using Hanes Park: Busy school and stadium traffic would cross the nearly uninterrupted sidewalk perimeter favored by walkers and runners. Latter plans reduced the number of intersections.*
- Pollution introduced: Tall stadium lights and a loudspeaker system would affect surrounding neighborhoods. Litter from the stadium would be blown and thrown onto park property — the City will have to budget for additional clean-up.
- Extreme parking impact: Parking for the YMCA, tennis courts, fields,etc is already at capacity. At peak times, there are not enough parking spaces available for demand. Add a 4,500 facility and it would become impossible. The result would be more cars parking regularly on nearby Park fields and neighboring streets.
UPDATE 2013: Revised plans reduced the stadium capacity to 3,000 seats so that Home Field Advantage could attempt to reach parking requirements citing available parking at R. J. Reynolds High and Brunson schools as well as off-street and grass parking. Still, the fact that parking is already at a premium in the area at peak times remains.
UPDATE 2017: The 2016 School Bond includes an improved pedestrian safety, a new drop-off area, and new parking plan.
Q: Is the entire project privately funded?
No. Taxpayers would pay at both the beginning of the project and after construction is completed. An estimated $3 million* is required for a new gym necessitated by the stadium’s demolition of two existing gyms. Taxpayers would also pay for new access streets and for additional unspecified elements of the development. The day construction is completed, taxpayers would assume payment of ongoing operating expenses including stadium, lights, clean up, added security, and facility maintenance.
The project would add to the budgetary needs of the school. Some have asked how the school system can justify spending that kind of money when it is facing continued cutbacks and austerity measures. What school projects will be bumped to free up moneys for this project?
UPDATE 2013: Revised plans shifted all demolition and construction costs to Home Field Advantage responsibility. However, Home Field Advantage has not adjusted their fundraising goals to reflect this change; no estimate of actual costs has been presented; and operating and maintenance costs would remain the school’s and therefore the tax payer’s burden.
UPDATE 2016: Home Field Advantage decreased their fundraising goals to just $4.5 million in response to a promise from WSFCS to cover all demolition and construction costs of the Wiley Gym, the drop off area and more. The estimated cost of the Wiley Gym as stated on the proposed WSFCS 2016 Bond Referendum is $9.4 million, a figure that is not only double the original estimated cost of the gym but also exceeds the entire stadium project estimate by $1.5–2.5 million.
UPDATE 2017: Home Field Advantage is seeking additional changes to their agreement with WSFCS concerning demolition of the Wiley Gym, project schedules and cost responsibility. WSFCS are currently projected bond projects exceeding original budgets.
Q: Are you opposed to high school athletics?
A: No. The issue is not about athletics. The issue is, at the least, about the inappropriate location of a large facility and the spending priorities at a time of great need in our school system. But, it also brings to question how our schools set priorities and particularly how private funds influence these decisions.
Q: Does R.J. Reynolds High School have a stadium?
A: Yes, on Clemmonsville Rd, dedicated on Sept. 9, 1994 in honor of former RJR principal Bob Deaton and former Parkland football coach, Homer Thompson. This stadium seats 6,000. This is the largest high school stadium in the county.
Q: But their stadium is far from the school and they have to share it with another school. Doesn’t Reynolds deserve their own stadium closer to school?
No. During such austere times, our public schools must follow more feasible practices. Our State Board of Education published a study in 2000 that recommended, among other economical and sustainable practices, high schools share outdoor athletic facilities. Reynolds current shared stadium and adjacent practice field (on Hanes Park public property) proudly meets these state recommendations.
See Public Schools of North Carolina State Board of Education: Making Current Trends in School Design Feasible, November 2000 See in particular the first paragraph on page 37, quoted below:
Shared Inter-Scholastic Outdoor Athletic Facilities
…several high schools, or even an entire district or conference, could share football and baseball stadiums, as well as a competition gymnasium with a large seating capacity. Competition athletic facilities are one of the most expensive and land-hungry facilities associated with high schools. From an economic standpoint, it is difficult to justify a 4,000-seat stadium, complete with concession stands, very large restroom facilities, lighting and other amenities, that is only used for four or five games a year. … Multi-purpose practice fields would still be needed at or adjacent to each school, but these fields can be significantly less elaborate and do not necessarily even need to be full-sized.
Q: Has the stadium been approved for construction by the School Board?
A: No. The school board voted to allow Home Field Advantage to commence fundraising for a stadium and they approved a specific preliminary plan for fundraising. All final plans for construction must still be brought before the school board for final approval.
Q: What plan was approved by the School Board in 2012?
A: Scheme C1 was approved by the School Board that included the following phases:
Phase 1 Construct a new practice field on school property off Reynolda Road across from the Children’s Home.
Phase 2 Renovate Bryson Gym to provide for use by Wiley School after their gym is demolished
Phase 3 Replace Wiley boiler currently housed in Wiley Gym
Phase 4 Demolish Wiley Gym; Construct new 2200 Seat Multipurpose Stadium in front of Wiley School; Construct new Wiley Gym; Construct new Wiley drop-off behind the school
Q: Did the School Board include any conditions of their approval?
A: Yes. A follow-up Building and Grounds Committee Meeting on December 11, 2012 clarified the following conditions to the WSFC School Board approval:
- HFA will raise all of the money to pay for all phases listed above in entirety – The estimate provided at the time of presentation was $7-8 million
- WSFCS Board require that HFA have all of the money available for each phase before any work on that phase will be done
- All final plans and bids must be approved by the School Board before construction can begin
WSFCS staff will manage the construction
- After completion, WSFCS will provide complete operations and maintenance of the facilities
UPDATE 2017: Home Field Advantage did not meet their fund raising goals and so did not meet the conditions set by the School Board. However, WSFCS are still working with HFA on stadium plans and creating a Wiley Gym plan that will make way for this proposed stadium.
Q: When would the general public be able to use the stadium?
A: It is unclear. The stadium would be surrounded by a tall locked fence not shown in any booster renderings but confirmed by their spokesperson.
Q: What is UDO-233?
A: UDO-233 is a text amendment to zoning requirements to correct an oversight in a 2006 amendment that removed all parking requirements for high school stadiums. It has been approved by City Council. For more details about UDO-233, see our summary here.
Q: Does UDO-233 prevent the construction of a high school stadium?
A: No. It would not prevent Reynolds High School (or any other high school) from building a stadium.
UPDATE 2017: Home Field Advantage presented revised Phase I stadium plans as presented in a public drop-in session on October 3, 2017 that met UDO-233 requirements. At that date, these plans had already been presented to and approved by the City Planning Board. HFA plans future expansion of seat-count in later project phases.
Q: Does UDO-233 affect all schools in the WSFCS system?
A: No. It only pertains to new stadium construction inside GMA 1 and GMA 2 areas. It has no bearing on existing stadiums or suburban high schools outside of GMA 1 & 2.
Q: Does the passage of UDO-233 affect other schools in GMA 1 and GMA 2 areas such as Elementary and Middle schools?
A: No. The state already dictates minimum land and size requirements for high schools. Most existing elementary and middle schools are simply too small, do not meet these requirements and therefore could not be converted to high schools. The text amendment only applies to high school stadiums.
Q: How much are taxpayers paying from the last private fundraising drive?
A: A private group raising funds for RJR auditorium renovations left taxpayers to cover a $620,000 debt.
Q: Does the state require the stadium to seat 4,500 people?
A: No. There is no state requirement. Boosters plan to meet NCHSAA requirements so Reynolds HS might accommodate a potential Division 4-A playoff. Average attendance at Reynolds football games is 600-900. If built, the stadium would be one of the largest in the state.
UPDATE 2017: Home Field Advantage is broken their proposed stadium project into phases. The Phase I plan is for a 2,000-seat stadium. Phase III plans to expand the stadium.
Q: Is a 4,500-seat stadium needed for regular football games?
A: No. Average attendance at Reynolds football games is 600-900.
Q: How many parking spaces are in current Reynolds lots?
A: Fewer than 325.
Q: How far are Reynolds parking lots from the stadium?
A: Far: The average distance is almost a quarter mile (about 1,100 feet) through a tunnel, up a hill and on the other side of a city thoroughfare. There is a change in elevation of between 50 and 70 feet. Parking at Deaton-Thompson stadium (and most typical schools’ stadiums) is about 500 feet or less.
Q: Isn’t the land just a school bus parking lot and old gym?
A: No. The development would cover almost six acres. Most of this is undeveloped green space that contributes significantly to Hanes Park’s peaceful ambiance.
Q: Do tennis court lights stay on year-round and every evening right now anyway?
A: No. The courts are lighted only when reserved for play and are off by 8:30 or 9 pm. Evening use drops significantly in the winter.
Q: Would surrounding businesses benefit from increased traffic during events?
A: Most likely, No. Current businesses include a rug shop, a sandwich shop, consignment stores, and upholstery shops. Several of the owners complain that business decreases during practices and games because parking spaces are unavailable. It would only get worse.
Q: When did the public first learn about the proposal? Was there a prior informational meeting?
A: No. The stadium proposal was first disclosed to the general public in a newspaper article on December 15, 2011. 2 neighborhood associations then contacted RJR HS boosters. The boosters accepted their invitations to present the project to surrounding communities. However, to this date, no public meetings have been initiated by the boosters.
UPDATE 2017: Home Field Advantage held their first public community drop-in session in October 3, 2017. Please note however, there was little to no notification of the event. Postcards were mailed to a limited number of neighbors only a week prior to the event. The first social media post appeared on HFA’s Facebook page the day of the event. There was no mention on RJRHS, WSFCS or other sites. Stimmel Associates, School Representatives and CM Macintosh were present at the meeting.
Q: The bus parking lot along NW Boulevard is unsightly. Wouldn’t moving the buses be a good thing?
A: No. New donor parking would be built. The high cost of relocating bus parking remains. The area would still contain a rebuilt parking lot intended for stadium donors. School administration had previously told neighbors that it could not relocate the bus lot due to high cost. Although they are now agreeing to relocate bus parking for the stadium, the high cost remains a burden to taxpayers.