Friday, January 14, 2005

War Memorial Stadium, John Hammer, and What I'm Hearing

I wrote earlier that I've been asked to participate with a group of Greensboro citizens and city staff in picking the architects who will plan the renovation of War Memorial Stadium. In that post, I asked for input about what's most important in that project: preservation, usefulness, parking, beautification, etc. You can read that post here.

The people who wrote back had some interesting and thoughtful things to say; here are their responses. I was suprised that none of them thought it particularly important to retain the original seating capacity. They were more concerned to preserve the facade and to update the locker rooms, seating, and other amenities so as to make the stadium more attractive to fans and to college and youth baseball tournaments.

Their responses fly directly in the face of John Hammer's editorial in yesterday's Rhino Times, which accuses "the city" (a rather nebulous entity) of planning to "tear down" War Memorial Stadium by reducing its seating capacity.

Perhaps John is right in a way that he didn't intend. When he said "the city," he probably meant city staff and elected officials. But the course of action he derides seems to have the support of some ordinary citizens -- and they are "the city," too.

At any rate, I want to hear more from ordinary people before we start picking architects. Please add comments here or e-mail me at

UPDATE: Thanks to Ed Cone for the link!


Anonymous said...

Actually I'm posting as Jim McCullough. I'm just avoiding Blogger's annoying attempt to get me to begin a blogger "account." David--after reading your blog, I had another idea about something you could talk about and then discuss: how/why Catholic laity should get involved in their local community, meaning not just direct service, but the kinds of things you are interested in (Trebic and the neighborhood projects, for intance). How the Church urges laity to do just such things, and bring their varied backgrounds and expertise into the political sphere (for instance, your academic/reading background--that quote from Adam Smith was great, but most of the neighbors will only hear it because you've read it). It could be tell your own story (how I got into this) and how I see this fulfills something the Vatican Council calls us laity to. Any thoughts? Lent is just around the corner. Jim

Michael said...

Not only do I think it unimportant to maintain the present seating capacity, I think it is necessary to reduce the seating capacity. On a lovely spring evening, I loved stopping by the stadium when I was out walking the dog for a couple innings of college ball. There would be me and my dog, about 3 pro scouts, and a dozen girlfriends or parents of players. I may only be exaggerating a little. It ruins the atmosphere of the game if the stadium is mostly empty. There should not be more seats than there is demand for. The stadiun will be thought of as a failure if no events held in it ever fill it. The outfield grandstand with the bar should be torn down and maybe even some of the seats along the third base line can be lost for other uses. The problem is that the stadium was built for football and the sightlines have never been quite right for baseball. Of course, the facade and the seating behind home plate should be preserved. It would be great for the neighborhood if much of the dirt parking lot could be put to better use as it is an eyesore right at an important intersection. Also, it would be great to integrate the stadium with the park area and tennis courts behind it. I think the main problem here may be the high, solid fence. If there won't be demand for significant advertising anymore, it might be better to have either a chain link or just a lower fence. A lower fence might not be right for college ball though (what with their aluminum bats). I do sort of like the idea of an embankment in the outfield so that people could picnic, etc. The embankment could taper off into the park and might provide a better transition. Should thought be given to using the stadium for another sport? It was built as a football stadium, and it would not be inappropriate to revert to football or soccer. Is there really demand for an additional baseball stadium with this capacity?

David Wharton said...

Michael, the idea of multiple sports for WMS was brought up earlier in the process, when we were looking primarily at the use of the stadium. The committee representatives from G'boro Parks and Recreation indicated that the logistics were very difficult and the maintenance costs (i.e. sodding the infield baselines, etc.) were prohibitive.

So the city is not going to revisit the question of how the stadium will be used -- amateur baseball, and a lot of that -- is going to be it.

Thanks for your input!

Anonymous said...

I wasn't suggesting multiple sports; it is too difficult to line the field, etc. I was just suggesting a different sport rather than baseball. However, I understand if the choice is baseball. I just don't think a city the size of GSO needs two 5000 seat baseball stadiums.