Is it going to be expensive to rehab War Memorial Stadium? Yes. The 2002 Phillip Bess/Aycock study of WMS indicated that $3,060,000 will be required to renovated the existing 34,000 sq. ft. stadium footprint, this amount includes a proper historic restoration and complete ADA compliance for the facility (which it currently lacks).
Compare this to the structural report that was ordered by the City Manager and presented to the City Council last week. The total bill for temporary stabilization: $10,000. This amount is like putting a Band-Aid on a festering wound. What's more is that this $10,000 runs far short of the $127,000 in capitol improvements that was recommended in a pro-new stadium report (PDF File) generated by the City Manager's office in October 2002 that proclaims, "concerns that the facility will sit unused and neglected are unfounded." Something is rotten here because the "claims" are becoming more and more "founded".
According to Thursday's N&R, Greensboro's Inspections Department is recommending to the City Council that a decision be made on "whether to permanently restore the entire stadium or keep only parts of the historic structure".
There is no question that our Parks & Recreation Department will utilize the pro-quality playing surface at WMS for amatuer baseball. According to facility director Mark Bush, the maximum number of days that the surface will be able to host is the same as it's current useage, around 150, any more and the field will degrade. We will have no problem booking those 150 games, but what about the stadium?
WMS, in its current configuration, seats more fans than the new downtown stadium. In the WMS Task Force Committee meetings that I have been attending, I have not heard of any event that will attract more than 2,000 fans a few weekends per year. The average game, according to the baseball entities that will be using WMS, will attract an average of 50 - 75 fans per game. As I said before, thislack of fans in the stands causes me and others great concern.
The Rhino Times gave the best analogy (last paragraphs) I have heard regarding the future of the stadium in this week's edition: "Using War Memorial Stadium for games that attract 20 or 50 fans would be just like using the Greensboro Coliseum for A&T and Greensboro College basketball games. The teams might love playing in the Coliseum, but they would not make use of the 23,000-seat facility: they would just be using the basketball floor."
There will soon be opposing proposals in front our City Council regarding World War Memorial Stadium. Option 1: Spend the millions needed to rehab the historic structure which is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Option 2: Demolish large parts of the 1926 stadium to bring its seating capacity in line with it's expected future useage.
And you thought the fight was over.