By Missy Schrott | [email protected]
The T.C. Williams High School football team will play its home games at The St. James indoor sports facility in Springfield this fall, Alexandria City Public Schools announced on July 19.
The decision is related to the controversial modernization of T.C. Williams’ existing football field. City council approved the modernization project in October 2018, much to the chagrin of T.C. Williams’ neighbors. The neighbors allege that when T.C. was built in the 1960s, city and school representatives promised their ancestors to never put lights on the field.
Because the approved modernization project involves lighting the field, four separate groups of neighbors have filed lawsuits against the city and school board. One of those lawsuits will go to trial on Feb. 24, 2020. Judge Thomas Horne, the retired Loudoun County judge presiding over all of the lawsuits, will rule on July 30 whether the other three cases will go to trial.
ACPS appears to be moving forward on the project despite the lawsuits, although at a slower pace than anticipated. When the project was first approved, school representatives said construction would begin in March 2019. In May, ACPS sent out a news release stating that construction had been pushed back and would begin in the summer instead.
On May 6, the plaintiffs in one of the cases filed a request for an injunction against the city and school board, requesting that Horne require ACPS to halt action on the modernization until the lawsuit was complete, according to Lars Liebeler, the plaintiffs’ attorney.
Since then, the plaintiffs and defendants have come to a compromise, and the city and school board have agreed that they would do no construction in furtherance of installing permanent lights at the stadium until March 16, 2020, Liebeler said.
He said ACPS plans to proceed with some of the stadium modernization project unrelated to the lights in the fall, including putting new turf on the field.
In the interim, the football team will play its home games this season at The St. James sports complex. The 450,000-square-foot facility opened at 6805 Industrial Rd. in September 2018.
T.C. Williams will be the first high school in the history of the Virginia, Maryland and D.C. metro area to play its home games inside, according to an ACPS news release.