Is the elusive 9th Ward stadium any closer to the real thing? The city council is donating $1 million to the effort. | Education

For nearly 15 years, the 9th Ward has been promised a state-of-the-art football stadium, a field for George Washington Carver High School that could also be used by neighborhood and New Orleans kids.

Despite significant donations and community support, the project never materialized. But after recent federal and state funding allocations and a $1 million donation from the New Orleans City Council this week, the stadium may be closer to reality.

The 3,000-5,000 seat stadium, which is estimated to cost around $8 million, is just over $1 million away from its fundraising goal and fans hope to break ground next year, Board members of the 9th Ward Stadium Project told the New Orleans City Council on Wednesday.

“This project has been a long time coming,” said Ann Duplessis, board member of the 9th Ward Stadium Project and former state senator. “The people who make up the family of Upper 9th Ward, Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans East, we deserve it. This is one of the good things that will help turn the tide.

closer than ever

After raising over $1 million in donations and hosting a groundbreaking ceremony in 2015, the band ran out of money and the stadium remained a dream. A new volunteer council recently revitalized fundraising efforts, City Council President Helena Moreno said at Wednesday’s meeting.

U.S. Representative Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, secured $3 million for the project in a congressional appropriations bill, and the state legislature appropriated $3.8 million for the project. Moreno, who said the council’s donation came from a fund created by the settlement of the Entergy paid actors scandal, urged local businesses and private donors to step up and close the remaining gap.

Advocate Staff Photo by MATTHEW HINTON–George Washington Carver Cheerleaders and band members perform at a groundbreaking event for the Marshall Faulk Field of Dreams Stadium, previously called the 9th Ward Field of Dreams, in New Orleans, La., Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Former football player GW Carver and NFL Hall of Famer for the St. Louis Rams Marshall Faulk spoke at the event.

“It makes perfect sense to make this investment,” Moreno said, adding that it would be an economic boost for the 9th arrondissement.

The stadium will be built on the Carver campus, but will be used by students from across the school district, as well as NORD. Carver is managed by the Collegiate Academies charter network.

At the city council meeting, Mary Lodge Evans, a 1962 Carver graduate and alumni association president, presented a check for $4,000 for the stadium. Evans, who was flanked by several Carver alumni, all dressed in orange and green, challenged other alumni, clubs and businesses to donate.

“Remember – Rams forever,” she said.

Jazzmene Burkes, student government president of Rosenwald Collegiate, another charter school run by Collegiate Academies, said Rosenwald athletes train on “random ground” because the school doesn’t have a gymnasium or ground.

“Nola can be recognized for multiple negative things such as kill rate or even Katrina damage and I mean it can make me and my classmates feel like things can’t be fixed sometimes “, she said. “I mean the stadium is the start of the bend.”

Carver, which opened in 1958 as an all-black school, suffered major damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Like most schools in New Orleans, Carver does not have its own sports field or stadium.

Artificial grass, eight lane track

Mark Ripple, an architect whose firm Eskew Dumez Ripple designed the project pro bono, said the stadium includes a football pitch with artificial turf and an eight-lane track. It can also support sports including football. The stadium will accommodate 3,000 to 5,000 people with off-street parking.

So far, the council has committed $6.55 million for the $9 million project, Ripple said. The group is seeking commitments from business partners in exchange for naming rights, he said. Of the budget, $8 million will go to the building and $1 million will go to an escrow fund for regular maintenance, Ripple said.

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