Throwback Thursday

The following article was published in the Winston Salem Journal in 1986. A solution was reached and an acceptable site to build a stadium for Reynolds High School was located. The resulting stadium was dedicated in 1994 and named to commemorate the contributions of Robert Deaton, principal of R. J. Reynolds High and Homer Thompson, football coach of Parkland High.

Stadium Hearing Raises Questions Of Cost, Fairness

By Jennifer Young

Winston Salem Journal, January 28, 1986

Should the Reynolds High School football stadium be built at the intersection of Reynolda Road and Northwest Boulevard?

Twenty-eight people gave the city-county school board an answer to that question yesterday, and about 100 others listened when the Budget and Finance Committee held a public hearing on the proposed stadium.  Of those who spoke, 17 urged the board not to build the stadium or at least to seek another site, and 11 were in favor of the stadium.

The committee took no action and generally did not respond to the comments. But Chairman Gerald N. Hewitt said the panel will discuss the proposal again at a later date.

As expected, opponents of the proposal said the stadium would disrupt the character of nearby residential areas and would create problems with traffic and parking. Some also raised the issue of cost.

Supporters, on the other hand, said that it’s only fair that Reynolds have a stadium. Six of the school system’s eight high schools now have stadiums or money approved for them.

The 5,000-seat stadium proposed for Reynolds would cost an estimated $1,050,000 if built near the intersection of Northwest Boulevard and Reynolda Road. That tract is on a floodplain.

An estimate from Winston-Salem’s Public Works Department says the schools would have to spend $495,500 just to prepare the area for construction. But one speaker told the committee that the estimate did not include the cost of moving a sewer line in the area or the purchase of dirt to fill the site. School officials have said that in some places the fill would be 5 to 10 feet.

Hewitt said after the meeting that the speaker was correct about the items left off the estimate.

Opponents of the stadium stressed the problems with the site. Harry Weiler, for example, said the school system was trying “to shoehorn the stadium into a very tight spot.”

“In my opinion, the proposal is totally out of character with the adjoining area,” Weiler said. “I think you are subjecting this board to potential serious questions of liability (including flood damage). I think it’s a bad site, and I encourage the board to instruct its staff to look for alternative sites.”

David Eschelman, the president of the West Highlands Neighborhood Association, said that he’s concerned about the environmental impact and that he doesn’t think the school system has bade public enough details about the proposal.

Other speakers said it’s a question of priorities. “I would like to remind you ladies and gentlemen you are members of the Board of Education, not recreation,” said Coy Carpenter.

William A. Wise, the president of the West End Association, said the money for a stadium could be better spent to employ needed personnel and to make school repairs.

William A. Wise, the president of the West End Association, said the money for a stadium could be better spent to employ needed personnel and to make school repairs.

Referring to the upkeep of the school, Jonathan Edwards of the Crystal Towers Neighborhood Association said, “If my home were in that condition I wouldn’t feel like inviting guests in.”

But Robert Deaton, Reynolds’ principal, said that athletics are a priority, too. “Students need to relate to something at school other than academics,” he said. Bowman Gray Stadium, with its seating capacity of 18,000, is just too large for Reynolds, Deaton said. It’s too expensive to operate, he said.

“For years, it’s been said, we’re the school with everything when actually we don’t have anything,” he said.

Mike Southard, Reynolds’ soccer coach, that the lack of a good soccer playing field is an embarrassment when other teams come to town. “We’ve had to beg, borrow and steal to get a field and often did not have first choice,” he said.

Reynolds students who spoke at the meeting were divided in the opinions. Ann Hicks, a student athlete said that an athletic facility is important to school spirit and pride.

But student Ian Caskey said he had attended games at Bowman Gray High School and had enjoyed himself there. Instead of a new stadium, Reynolds needs a heating system “that doesn’t annoy you during tests,” and an air conditioner would be nice, too, he told the committee.

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