By William Goff, Alexandria (File photo)
To the editor:
Last month, the Alexandria Times published an editorial suggesting an outside-the-box process was necessary to avoid a collision between Seminary Hill residents and city officials about installing lights on the field at T.C. Williams (“Our View: Outside the box thinking is needed to avoid collision over T.C. lights,” January 14). I applaud the Times editorial board’s effort to take a stand on this issue and suggest a resolution to the issue.
The editorial articulated that a new stadium is absolutely necessary to advance our community sports needs. Rather than redoing a rag tag stadium complex at T.C. Williams High school, the Times article suggests that officials consider a new stadium in a less central and more commercial location like the Eisenhower Valley, which would make the field more accessible to fans and less disruptive to neighborhoods.
While I agree with the essence of that idea, I have a better solution — an ultimately less expensive and more financially rewarding alternative. If we truly want to relive the Titan experience, if the project is truly about Friday night lights and school sports, then the stadium needs to be built at George Washington Middle School for the following reasons.
George Washington is currently in disrepair and needs to be modernized or rebuilt, so why not make it a package deal — renovate the school as necessary and build a stadium and a track to coexist with the school. The Titans played at the original Parker-Gray Stadium, which was located at George Washington, not T.C. Williams, so this alternative is doable.
From a business point of view, imagine the impact this stadium would have on businesses in Del Ray. Imagine thousands of spectators trekking down the one-mile corridor of Mount Vernon Avenue to celebrate the Titans’ victories at Fireflies, Los Tios, or other restaurants and shops. No longer is the only meal choice Atlantis, McDonald’s or Subway at Bradlee Shopping Center.
While businesses are leaving Old Town, Del Ray and the area around West Street would flourish. Plus, the area around the field is heavily commercial and Metro accessible, making the site a perfect location, while a parking garage could be constructed for additional parking. The cost of this venture would be borne by expanded private partnerships with local businesses and investors, as it could be viewed as a business project not a school project.
In return for city contracts, developers would build and help finance the project. Sponsorship signs could be erected around the field to acknowledge the generosity of these sponsors and investors. Such signs would be readily seen from the nearby Metro station and surrounding buildings.
Even better, the $6 million earmarked for the T.C. stadium could be funneled back to the schools to hire more teachers, improve academic performance and raise teachers’ salaries.
Finally, the athletic field at T. C. Williams then could be a site for expansion, and the construction of more classrooms and school space would enable the city to plan for enrollment increases. The above plan is viable and can be successful.
The placement of a stadium at George Washington Middle School would be a less expensive alternative. As it evolves, it would stimulate business in Del Ray. There is no business boom at T.C. Williams. The need for a city stadium will be forever addressed and it will be located in the proper historic place, the real Parker-Gray Stadium area. Residents, before we spend $320,000 of your tax dollars allotted for a T.C Williams stadium design, we should discuss placing the Parker-Gray Stadium project at George Washington Middle School.