What will be constructed at Wiley: A fully funded playing field? or an unfunded dream stadium? That question goes back to the school board for discussion and a vote during their next meeting.
As construction winds down on the Wiley gym, we agree, it’s time to decide once and for all what is the best and most equitable use of newly cleared land on the school’s front campus.
A Fully Funded Field
The WS/FCS School Board has wisely proposed a grass playing field that would serve nearly all the needs of Wiley and RJR field sports*. The project would be fully funded by Wiley construction funds. Lacrosse and soccer players, band practice and Wiley P.E. could take to their new field within a year.
A Dream Stadium
Unfortunately, there’s a $6.2 million stadium project still competing for the same spot. Conceived and designed by a private group outside of district protocols, the proposed stadium would be too small to host school-wide events for Reynolds; too specialized to serve the general needs of Wiley; and too expensive to be fairly on par with other schools’ facilities. Their hope is that the Board will pledge at least half the cost of the stadium with hopes they can raise the rest.
But the stadium project has also proven too unpopular to attract the private funding upon which the entire proposal was built. Nearly a decade of appeals has yielded barely $1 million. Even if WS/FCS contributed the amount it spends on other stadiums – about $3 million – the project would still be short by more than $2 million. And yet, the proposal for a stadium at Wiley persists.
Stadium backers on the School Board now aim to attach enhancements to the playing field that would serve as Phase I of the $6.2 stadium plan. It’s important for citizens to make sure the playing field does not serve as a gateway to trick or trap taxpayers into underwriting an overwhelming sports facility that drains public resources and further undermines the integrity and equity of public process.
Public Input is Needed
Throughout planning and development of the stadium, public input has been denied. Furthermore, during the planning of the Wiley Gym, the public was sold a narrative that ignored this project’s essential role in the private stadium plan. Taxpayers are the controlling partner in these enterprises and it was time our voice was heard.
Let’s speak up about what our students need this playing field to be — and what they need it NOT to be.
Sign the Petition to Support a Field!
Sign the petition in support of an open, shared, playing field at Wiley. Go to https://www.change.org/SupportaField to sign today and share the link in emails to friends and neighbors and on your social media.
* RJR football home games are at Deaton-Thompson stadium, a shared facility with Parkland that is off-campus for both schools. Football currently practices adjacent to campus in Hanes Park on the baseball outfield but could move practice to this field.