Major renovations could be in store for Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, but some residents are concerned about the fairness of proposed changes and their impact on the sports played there.
Tyler ISD Superintendent Dr. Randy Reid met with about 40 community members and several district officials during a special question-and-answer meeting at Birdwell Elementary Monday night to discuss replacing the turf at the stadium and expanding the field.
Reid said a proposal to replace the current turf, which has been on the field for 11 years, and to remove two of the track lanes will be presented to the school board at Thursday’s regular meeting. The field at the stadium is not wide enough to be used as an official soccer field, he said.
“Essentially, you would lose the ability to host track meets (at Rose Stadium),” Reid said.
That would mean moving the Earl Campbell/Emma Barrett Relays to another location, possibly outside of the city, while the turf is replaced and several safety concerns at the stadium are addressed.
As part of the district’s long-range plan, Reid said track facilities would be developed at John Tyler High School and the relays would be relocated there when the work was completed.
“In the North Tyler black community, the truth of the matter is Earl Campbell (relays) is not just about John Tyler,” Bowie said after the meeting. “It’s about tradition.”
Bowie said he did not feel Reid’s proposal, which was presented to the audience in the elementary school’s auditorium, clearly explained what would happen to the relays if changes to the track were made.
Bowie said he has “nothing against soccer,” but he felt the track teams would suffer as a result of the change.
“We want this to be a win-win,” she said. “What is being presented is better than what we have.”
Reid said that ideally, the change would benefit both athletic groups.
The soccer field would allow the district to hold games, which it cannot currently do, Reid said. The installation of an eight-lane track at John Tyler would allow the district to host regional and district meets, which it has never done in the past because of the size, he said.
He said the Earl Campbell/Emma Barrett Relays draw, on average, 411 spectators each year over the course of the past seven years. The highest ever attendance was at 2011 event, which attracted just more than 600 people.
The idea of expanding both the current track and field also was addressed at the meeting.
Because of how the stadium is built, Reid said trying to expand both would be a “monstrous” effort: walls would have to be torn down and moved, among other things he said.
While groups were divided over how to handle the expansion of the field, both sides seemed to agree that repairs at the stadium need to be made.
Mrs. Harrison’s son has undergone two surgeries after hurting his leg during a soccer game because of a pothole in the field.
“Our kids are in danger,” she said.
Bowie said he would like to improvements made to both high school campuses and gradual work done at the stadium to avoid relocation of the relays.
“It’s not a black thing, it’s not a north versus south thing,” he said. “It’s a history thing.”
Reid said the concerns aired at the meeting were noted and would be taken into consideration at Thursday’s board meeting.
The meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Jim Plyler Instructional Complex, will allow 30 minutes for public comment on the changes. The complex is at 807 W. Glenwood Blvd.