Ribbon cutting opens Red Springs Athletic Complex

Red Springs

February 17, 2023

BY Chris Stiles, Sports editor
The Robesonian
JANUARY 23, 2023

Officials celebrate completion of multi-sport facility

RED SPRINGS — “Look at us now.”

Public Schools of Robeson County athletic director Jerome Hunt said these words just moments before officials cut the ribbon to ceremoniously open the Red Springs High School Athletic Complex Saturday, completing the first phase of the project after years of planning and construction which included numerous obstacles.

Hunt, PSRC Superintendent Freddie Williamson, Board of Education Chairman John Simmons, Vice Chairman Randy Lawson, Red Springs High School Principal Jamal Campbell and athletic director Glenn Patterson Sr. and Robeson County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Taylor were among the dignitaries to speak at Saturday’s ceremony. All showed pride in the facility and expressed relief that it is built.

“This is just a crown jewel, it really is,” Hunt said. “Everybody that’s been out here today has been really impressed, and that’s what we were trying to reach for too — for anybody to come out here and say ‘man, they’ve done it right, they’ve done this facility the right way.’”

The complex includes baseball and softball fields for the Red Springs teams to play on starting this spring. Both teams have played at off-campus facilities for decades, fields that the school does not own.

“It’s a beautiful day to be a Red Devil,” Patterson said. “I’m just so excited for the kids, for the school and for the community. As I said in my speech, all the inconveniences are now gone; we’ll really be able to house everything here, the same complex, and the fans don’t have to worry about paying for the softball game and then turning and going over to Tom Cope (Park) and paying for the baseball game.”

The facility will also include a football stadium; its construction remains in progress, but officials hope it will be ready for the fall 2023 season.

“It’s a dream come true,” Campbell said. “We are super excited for our student-athletes to get to play on their own facility. This is a true investment in our student-athletes, a big-time investment in our student-athletes, and I’m super excited for them that we have our own, finally. A lot of people worked hard for this, so we’re excited.”

The project cost approximately $7 million, Hunt said. Previous plans to include tennis courts as part of the facility have changed; instead, new tennis courts will be installed where the existing courts currently sit, Hunt said.

From the perspective of the entrance, the baseball field is the front left of the complex and the softball field is towards the back right. A concession stand sits between the two buildings, which includes public restrooms, men’s and women’s locker rooms and a storage area. The football field and an eight-lane track, the first of its kind in Robeson County, sit at the front right of the complex.

The facility sits on land nearly adjacent to Red Springs High School’s existing campus on Vance Street which was purchased from the previous owner by PSRC in 2015 for $260,000.

After years of discussion and administrative work, a groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held on April 16, 2019, with plans for the Red Devils teams to move to their new fields in 2020. But construction was delayed by budget constraints, then the COVID-19 pandemic, and once construction accelerated in early 2021, the continuing pandemic and supply chain issues caused more moderate delays.

Saturday, though, the long process culminated with the celebration of the facility’s opening and the promise of events being held at the complex very soon.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge, just financially,” Hunt said. “The hurricanes did cost us a lot of money, and it was in the plans back then, and just for everyone to come together from the school system to the board members to the county commissioners, engineers, just everybody to come together and make this happen — it’s been challenging, but to look at the final product, it’s been worth every second.”

Officials say the complex now stands as a testament to Robeson County’s resolve — and as a symbol of what is possible.

“The fact that we’re standing on this ground and this is now a reality speaks to the potential for the future, of what we need to do for our students to provide them the same opportunities as all students across this state,” Williamson said. “That’s what this represents — the fact that, yes we can, we can do whatever we determine we need to do to make it a reality.”

The complex also shows the result of “cooperation and collaboration,” Campbell said, after the PSRC Board of Education, the Town of Red Springs and the Robeson County Board of Commissioners each played a role in the facility’s completion.

“It’s important to work together, and this facility speaks to that,” Campbell said. “You have … three separate governmental entities, working together to ensure that we have a premier facility. I hope that spirit of unity continues for the betterment of all Robeson County.”

With Hunt preparing to retire as PSRC athletic director on Feb. 28, and Patterson leaving the Red Springs athletic director post to replace Hunt leading the district’s athletics, the ribbon cutting provided a fitting end for both in their current role after working so tirelessly in recent years to make sure the facility came to fruition.

“I can say I kind of put my mark on it, because I did have a lot to do with the design and tweaking stuff here and there,” Hunt said. “It’s just been very rewarding for me. I’ve still got a few irons in the fire that I want to, not necessarily complete, but make sure they’re in progress before I walk out the door, but this right here, this is a proud moment for me.”

“I’m just so elated that we were able to do the ribbon cutting ceremony before I exited out,” Patterson said. “Being a 1985 graduate of Red Springs, it’s truly a blessing. I’m looking forward to coming back and enjoying this great facility.”


Source: The Robesonian

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