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Plans for $8.8 million stadium to be unveiled

SoVaNow.com / May 14, 2018
Halifax County Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg will unveil plans for a new $8.8 million stadium for the high school and middle school when school board trustees meet tonight in Halifax.

As envisioned, the replacement stadium will seat 4,000 — greater than the 3,000-person listed capacity of Tuck Dillard Stadium, which was built in 1965 — and host football, soccer and community events such as concerts. To allow for year-round use, the field will have artificial turf instead of grass.

“We’d like to be able to use it every day of the year, for physical education classes, little league football, travel soccer and community events,” said Lineburg.

Noting that “part of the challenge we have [now] is a field that is not particularly usuable,” Lineburg said a key tenet of the plan is developing a facility that can accommodate outside groups throughout the year.

“Part of what we’ll share [tonight] is how the community can get involved in the project,” he said. For just under $9 million, “it will be a really nice stadium that will be something we can be really proud of.”

The presentation to the school board will include general schematics by Moseley Architects, which is conducting a comprehensive facilities study for the school division, as well as ideas by Lineburg on forming a public-private partnership to pay for the project.

“I do think that is certainly a possibility, of a private partnership,” said Lineburg. “I think a county stadium lends itself to that possibility.”

He described the stadium replacement as “not a gigantic project, but one that stands out that needs immediate doing.” Lineburg said inaction over time has only made matters worse. Tuck Dillard Stadium is “a facility that’s in really bad shape. The original stadium was built in 1965, and there’s never been any significant money into it.”

Other than the field house for the football team, the entire facility would need to be replaced, and longstanding flaws in its design fixed. Lineburg said the plan he will present to the trustees calls for moving the stadium’s overall footprint 20 yards closer to the middle school, reversing the sides of the home and visiting stands, and getting rid of the old track so the seating can be moved closer to the field to make viewing “more fan-friendly for football and soccer.” Parking would be relocated around back of the stadium, eliminating the conflicts that arise when spectators park in the middle school parking lot around back of the school.

“The only thing that is salvageable is the current field house,” said Lineburg.

Among its other problems, Tuck Dillard Stadium lacks handicap access, the bathrooms are in bad shape, and there’s an auxiliary building nearby the home bleachers that was condemned several years ago by the building inspector’s office.

“I don’t think it’s been for lack of care” that the stadium has grown outdated, said Lineburg. “It was never done the right way. It was a baseball field at one time, there’s a track around it that hasn’t been used for a long time, the home side [for spectators] is on the wrong side, and there are buildings on it that are condemned.

Even in an era when high school football has lost some of its luster, Lineburg said a new stadium should be a facilities priority.

“It’s not just a football field if we do something like this [new stadium],” said Lineburg, whose education career has included stints as a high school head football coach. “It’s soccer, it’s space for phys ed. If you do it the right way, you should be able to use it all the time.”

The facility would serve as a “learning stage” for students, he said: “Physical education is every bit as much of our curriculum as math education, science education and everything we do …. This is not just about sports, it’s bigger than that.”

Building a new stadium also would go hand-in-hand with renovating or rebuilding the high school, a much larger undertaking. “When you build a new school it’s going to be a part of that project anyway,” said Lineburg.

“We’re addressing the needs and not kicking the can down the road, and we want to come up with some creative ways of doing this that saves us money for [subsequent needs],” said Lineburg. He added, “There are some things that are really going to drive [costs of] the school system in the future that are really unavoidable — declining enrollments, teacher pay and facilities issues. These are absolutely driving forces for us.”

In 2007, a consulting firm developed a $6 million plan to rebuild Tuck Dillard Stadium — the project never came to fruition — and the cost of fixing the stadium has only risen since then, Lineburg said. “The general consensus is that this is long overdue …. When I go out and speak to clubs and talk to people about the things that people want to see done, this is one of those areas where citizens are frustrated with a dilapidated stadium.

“I want to share this with the [school] board and see how they want to proceed. We’re trying our best to be really transparent with this. You would hope there would be a number of entities that would help us with this,” he said. If not, “I worry that if we don’t do something with it, we’ll have to wait four or five more years [before the next chance to take action]. How long do you let it go before it falls to the ground?”

Moseley Architects, which is conducting a $174,000 facilities study for the School Board — to come up with answers for the high school, elementary school disparities and other issues — is expected to have its findings ready to present to the public in June, Lineburg said.


Halifax County trustees meet tonight at 6:30

The Halifax County School Board will meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. at South Boston Elementary School for trustees’ regular monthly session.

South Boston Elementary students will be in the spotlight as they show off some of their accomplishments for trustees. HCHS Principal Mike Lewis and Debbie Woltz of the Career Center also will introduce members of the Cometbots robotics team that recently participated in national competition in Detroit.

Trustees will also receive reports on Sinai Elementary’s corrective action plan as well as an update on the facilities study which is expected to be finalized in June.

They will also hear from Sonya Ferguson about the 4-H Service Learning Project which she is heading.

Lineburg is also expected to make a recommendation on allowing the community’s use of school facilities, and also to request that a board meeting be set for June 25 to finalize the upcoming school year budget.


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Comments

Population declination yet spend more money. Do not do any
Maintenance just get a new one. Makes no sense!!

Comments

In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner's character heard voices saying, "if you build it, they will come." If we build a new stadium,. people will come out more and if we do a new school, more businesses and people will relocate to Halifax County...thus more tax $. To me it makes a lot of sense.

Comments

Well find a sponsor then. This county is being taxed to it's brink already.Priorities are not in order.Maintain your schools before you build a castle to admire.

Sentara Community Stadium or ABB Field or Dollar General arena are all suitable names. Find some money outside of the taxpayers.

Comments

Build a new stadium for $8 mil.? Somebody is crazy in the cranium. They're quoting that amount because they know the fool's in charge will fall for it and they will just put the tab on everyone in the county that pays taxes. Use gofundme, private donations or find sponsors.

Comments

Get real people. The county needs to upgrade the high school and its facilities. Band aides cost more over the span of time and yes it will cost us money, but if you do your research you will find that Halifax has one of the lowest tax burdens on its citizens in the ENTIRE commonwealth...lower than several very economically challenged counties. Out of 134 taxing localities, only NINE pay less than we do. It's also why the other 125 localities are more vibrant than our area. Have some pride in where you live!


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