The Reidsville Athletics Department is working on a project for renovations and upgrades to Community Stadium and Jimmy Teague Field (JTF) which are slated to be completed in early 2023 if all goes according to plan.
The estimated cost of the improvements is approximately $1.5 million, which includes replacing the grass playing surface with an artificial turf field in addition to a new six-lane track with the inserts for the pole vault pit and long jump on the margins of JTF.
Rams head football coach Jimmy Teague said in a YouTube video released earlier this month that between grants targeted and other funds pledged he feels confident they are on target to raising $1,175,000 dollars and working to raise an additional $350,000.
“We’ve already raised over $120,000 just in the first week or so, so we are doing well, but again, we’ve still got a long way to go. Like I’ve been saying all along, the stadium wouldn’t have happened without the community. Now we are hoping for the renovation, but it won’t happen without the help from the community. We need for the community to step up and help us get the rest of this money raised over the next couple of months so we can complete this project,” said Teague.
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Before any of this happens though, the crux of the entire project rests upon a potential grant from the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program.
“The fundraising committee is in the process of working on a $250,000 matching grant through the NFL with a due date of May 31, so we’ve been working hard to get that together. We’ve had to get a lot of input from all of the people that use the field. We’ve been blessed because the school system and the county commissioners said they would match that if we get the grant,” Teague said.
Since 1998, the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program has awarded more than $58 million in grants for over 400 projects nationwide and Reidsville hopes to be next on the list.
It will likely be the middle of September or the first of October before Reidsville gets word on the NFL grant.
“The $250,000 is contingent on them getting the grant, but the $500,000 (for the track) is not. They already have that funding. So the $250,000 is a match from the county commissioners and the board,” said Assistant Superintendent of Operations for Rockingham County Schools Dr. Sonja Parks.
So if the NFL grants and the match by RCS do not come through, the school would be responsible for raising the additional projected costs.
Parks said she is optimistic the grants will come through, but if they don’t, it could become a phased endeavor with the track upgrade coming first.
“That may be one approach that we have to take. We definitely want to address the track and the drainage issues first. We are working with Attendance Group, an engineering company, to address drainage issues and looking at getting that under control and then we’ll be putting out the bids and determining who is going to do this project,” she said.
In addition to the problems with drainage surrounding Jimmy Teague Field, worn playing surfaces and deteriorating pavement on the track are other major issues. When engineers surveyed the property, it was determined all of the previous foundation was going to have to be replaced.
In January of 2022, Teague and the athletics department proposed as long as the ground-work on the foundation and installation of the new track surface was moving forward, it made sense in the long term to include a turf field too.
The proposed projects will be the first major series of renovations at Community Stadium since 1984. These state-of-the art upgrades will rival any high school facility in the state as well as some smaller college venues.
Full speed ahead
Since the outcome of the grants won’t be known until later this year, the fundraising team is moving forward in the interim in anticipation of a positive outcome.
The current plan for the Reidsville Rams Athletics Complex improvements includes a three-tiered fundraising program to achieve the goal of raising the money in the coming months.
This includes Ram Level donors (75 people pledge $1,000), Blue Gold Level contributors (15 people pledge $5,000) and Diamond Level patrons (10 people pledge $20,000).
The football program got several major upgrades to the Reidsville Football Field House beginning in 2019 when the locker room, coach’s offices and team meeting room were completely renovated, but this will be the first major project for improvements to the stadium and field.
The renovation to the field house included new flooring and fresh paint for the entire facility. In addition, the recently installed player lockers are similar to the ones used by many top Division I college and professional teams.
Once the funds are secured for the track and football field, RHS Athletics Director Joe Walker said if all goes according to plan, demolition, grading and installation could start by December and completed as early as February of 2023 if the weather cooperates.
Reidsville football teams have won 22 state football championships, more than any other high school program in North Carolina. Coaches and the athletics department agree they want a complex that reflect on that championship legacy and ensure it continues.
Obviously, the Reidsville JV and varsity football teams will enjoy the upgrades to the facility, but Teague says since Community Stadium also has been the home football field for Reidsville Middle School and other youth league games in addition to varsity soccer, this project benefits everyone.
“That is another reason we have been pushing to get the new field turf and hopefully we will be able to make some improvements, not just to the turf itself, but also some other areas to really make it a first-class stadium not just for Rockingham County, but also the whole Triad area of North Carolina. We want to make it a showplace,” Teague said.
Parks said she and Rockingham County Schools will certainly do their part to help this project come to fruition.
“I’m just glad that the board and commissioners have decided to do this and it’s time to make this happen for our kids and our community. There is nothing that can galvanize anything like football can, right? So this is a start. We’ve got great leadership, a great coaching staff and a champion football team. I’m so excited about this project and I just pray that we can make this happen for our Reidsville football team,” Parks said.
To check out a video recently released by the Reidsville Athletics Department for fundraising plans and an artist rendering on the new upgrades visit https://youtu.be/ITG9RLn0nTE.