Sports facility moves forward


Alexandria is one step closer to having an All City Sports Facility. In a vote of 6-1, the Alexandria City Council gave the Department of Parks Recreation and Cultural Activities permission to hire an architect to develop plans for the complex.

Councilman Andrew Macdonald cast the lone dissenting vote. I am not convinced that this is something that the majority of people in the city want us to spend tax dollars on, Macdonald said.

The Parks and Recreation Commission has held hearings and Council has put funds in the last two capital budgets for the facility.

Now we are at the stage that we need to really look at developing a plan, doing site work and then putting the project out for construction bid, said Roger Blakesly, deputy director of the Department of Recreation. So much site work needs to be done, he said, that it will take some time to get it ready for construction.

The planned project will be home to a rectangular, multi-use playing field that will accommodate football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey. There will also be one baseball field and one for softball.

While the All City Sports Facility will be available to T. C. Williams High School, Mayor William D. Euille emphasized that its main purpose is not for night football. We want to build this facility because we have many youth and adult activities that it could accommodate, Euille said. We dont want our youth and adults to have to go to Fairfax or Arlington to play in a facility like this; they already have them and we need one as well.

Seating for 4,000
The rectangular field will have artificial turf, while the baseball and softball fields will be natural. There will be lights for nighttime contests and events, seating for 4,000 people, and male and female locker rooms under the bleachers. The parking lot at the facility will accommodate 300 cars and several buses.

We have a commitment from the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority that we can use their facilities for parking, and we have been told that we can park up to 100 cars on Eisenhower Avenue, said Kirk Kincannon, Recreation Department director. Also, we will arrange for shuttles from various locations when we hold large events.

Officials said the facility will cost $11.7 million, $5 million of which will be raised privately by the Alexandria Capital Development Foundation.
We believe that this is the kind of project that can be funded through private contributions, and we are willing to raise $5 million for it, said former Councilman David Speck, ACDF chairman. We have had some inquiries about the facility, and think that it will take us about a year to raise the amount we are committed to raising.

However, Councilwoman Joyce Woodson said, I want us to be very specific about exactly how much money the Foundation is going to have in hand before we bid this project. That would make me more comfortable and, I believe, members of the community as well.

Council agreed to require that the Foundation have pledges or contributions totaling 75 percent of the $5 million before the project can be bid. Site plans should be available in the spring, at which time the project will come back to Council for further discussion.

If all goes as planned, the facility should open in the fall of 2008.