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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

District 7 pushes for new Spartanburg High School stadium

Spartanburg High School helped with the construction and funding of Gibbs Stadium when it was built in 1996. Since then, Spartanburg High School has used Gibbs Stadium to host their home football games as well as graduation.
Spartanburg High School helped with the construction and funding of Gibbs Stadium when it was built in 1996. Since then, Spartanburg High School has used Gibbs Stadium to host their home football games as well as graduation.

By: Addie Lawrence, Editor

With a plan to fund a new stadium and school for Spartanburg High School on the District 7 School Board’s table, Friday nights at Wofford may see a dramatic decrease in the amount of dark blue jerseys on campus.

According to Richard Johnson, director of athletics, Wofford’s partnership with Spartanburg High School dates back to the 50s, when Spartanburg High School used Snyder Field, later repurposed for soccer, for their football games. As campus has changed over the years, more direct interaction between game-goers and the residential areas of campus has occurred, as well as new challenges.

“It brings more of a traffic flow, and more of a pedestrian traffic into where the campus has shifted,” Johnson says.

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“Parking is an issue,” he adds.

On Oct. 9, cars lining N. Church Street and Pine Street stopped traffic leading into Wofford prior to the Spartanburg High School vs. Dorman High School football game, which was hosted on campus. Additionally, the Village parking lot was closed to the public – and to students returning to campus unaware.

Additionally, Students may have been shocked to receive an email about an armed robbery on Sept. 18, coinciding with the Spartan High School vs. Greenwood High School game. However, according to campus safety’s crime reports, no other crimes on campus have occurred on the dates of Spartanburg High School’s football games.

For Johnson, he says he has no qualms sending his kids to the football games and regards potential problems as “minor issues” outweighed by the benefits of a shared stadium.

“It’s been a long-time standing relationship, and it’s our way to connect to District 7 and all those students and help the community a little bit,” Johnson says.

Johnson describes the relationship as “reciprocal.” In 1996, Spartanburg High School helped fund the construction of Gibbs Stadium.

While Spartanburg High School borrows the stadium for Friday night home games, Wofford uses Spartanburg High School’s track. Additionally, hosting games on Wofford’s campus has the potential to turn Spartanburg residents into prospective students.

“In general, from a recruiting standpoint, those students are exposed to Wofford – and not just the athletes, but the students,” Johnson says. “I think it’s a good recruiting tool.”

Even for those who may not be interested in attending Wofford, Johnson says that Gibbs Stadium provides the community with a chance to connect to campus.

“They’ll do their graduation in Gibbs Stadium, so one of their highlights of their high school career occurs on our campus,” Johnson says.

According to Sally Hammond, chief communications officer for District 7, graduation is one of the reasons that Spartanburg High School students may need a new stadium. Hammond attended public forums regarding the construction plan, led by Superintendent Russell Booker.

“One of the things [Booker] talks about is the opportunity for students to be able to remain on their own campus for really important events,” Hammond says. “One example of that is graduation, and having to go off campus for graduation. To be able to have the kind of amenities that most high school kids have on their campus would include a stadium and an auditorium.”

“More often than not, our athletes, our artists, our musicians are packing up to leave to go to an off-campus venue because we can’t provide that on our current campus,” she adds.

According to the Spartanburg Herald, transportation costs for taking students off-campus was a factor taken into consideration when designing the plan. But with this potential solution comes new challenges.

For Hammond, citizens have raised concerns regarding increased traffic flow around the proposed site, the former Lan-Yair Country Club on the east side of Spartanburg. For Johnson, people will always protest when taxes will be raised, he says.

Despite the tax increase that the new Spartanburg High School would cause, Johnson says that it would be worth the benefits that it would bring to the Spartanburg – and Wofford – community.

“If it helps District 7, it’s good for us, it’s good for faculty, it’s good for staff who have kids who go to District 7,” he says.

According to Hammond, Spartanburg High School is a “priority that rose to the top” after a comprehensive facility study of the District’s properties. That said, the ability for District 7 students to play at Wofford has been valuable, she says.

“I want to emphasize how much we’ve appreciated and enjoyed our relationship with Wofford,” Hammond says.

More public forums will be held before the plan is placed in front of the School Board in November. The board could decide to hold a referendum, Hammond says. Until then, there is no projected date for the school and stadium as of yet.

“When you have a great partnership, you miss it when that partnership dissolves,” Johnson says. “But as a Spartanburg resident and as a community resident, I think this is a terrific thing. Your tax base, your home values, your attractiveness to bring new people into the community – they’re based on schools.”

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