Matt Williams reached me yesterday while I was 'fixin' the winders' of a very impressive mansion over in Winston. He was looking for some background on the story he filed in today's N&R about War Memorial Stadium (WMS).
Seems the City advertised an RFP (Request for Proposal) concerning WMS in the paper and it piqued his interest, it would have piqued mine too, but I depend on others, like Matt, to actually read the "announcements" section. The RFP was a surprise to most everyone.
I am going to make sure the request gets to the folks to whom my neighborhood has already paid $60,000 to study the stadium and how it relates to the rest of the area. The lead stadium architect in the group we got to know so well back in 2002 was Rolondo Llanes, of Fenway Park fame. Philip Bess needs to get back involved also, and I will get him up to speed. Hpoefully they will submit their own proposals.
In a related update, the City has turned Aycock down on our efforts to get them to waive or pay the fee to have the stadium and surrounds re-zoned into the Aycock Historic District. According to assistant City Manager Bob Morgan, getting the property so designated is not a priority in the timeline for getting the area studied for what it will become.
Aycock's position is that if the stadium is placed under the Historic District Guidelines, the structure will pretty much be preserved in its current form - by force of ordinance. Implied in the City's reticence to have their own property placed under their own Guidelines is that they might have other ideas.
Euphemisms are utilized by everyone I speak to with the City regarding the future of the old stadium's actual structure. "Reduced seating", "fitting it to it's new roll as an amatuer facility", "seating options" and so on. The truth is, and as Williams alludes in his article, the guts of the structure along the third base line have deteriorated almost beyond repair. Demolition of part of seating bowl is almost inevitable as a result of years of neglect.
The question is, how will the structure will be rebuilt and what will it look like 5, 20 or 50 years from now? Under the Guidelines the stadium would likely be rebuilt much like its current configuration. Lacking those guidelines, the architects who will be submitting the proposals will have much wider latitude with regard to the National Historic Registry property and the property could be inappropriately altered.
I am very pleased with Mayor Holliday's remarks in the article, chiefly this one: "I'm bullish on trying to not just maintain it, but improve the stadium," Holliday said. "I'm happy that we're opening up to all possibilities."