NewsSt. Landry Parish


Some question if proposed renovations to Opelousas stadium are worth the price tag

Posted at 10:25 PM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 23:27:15-04

There is a proposal in the works for the revitalization of Donald Gardner Stadium in Opelousas.

"It would be a state of the art facility for track, soccer, volleyball and football."

Opelousas Downtown Development Chairperson Lena Charles explains the project would be in partnership with the St. Landry Parish School Board. The turf football field, state of the art track and new lighting is proposed phase one. Phase two would include a new baseball and softball field.

"We don't have a certified track in this parish that can hold a meet," explains DDD Board Member Patrick Fontenot. "The school board, city and DDD can come together to provide that for our kids."

Both Charles and Fontenot say this project is about more than just athletics.

"This project will help keep some young men and women in school and make them proud to be in school," Fontenot says.

Here's a breakdown of the proposal:

The DDD will put up $1 million for the project; as will the St. Landry Parish School Board. But neither will write a $1 million check to get it done.

According to the DDD, each entity will pay around $11,000 a month for the next eight years, equaling close to the roughly $2 million price tag.

But some question - for a school district with so many needs, is spending $11,000 a month the best use of money?

"Show me the budget. Show me where they monies are!"

School board member Joyce Haynes says the board recently decided to hold off on voting on this issue.

She says they're waiting on a budget breakdown from the superintendent and a clearer understanding from the DDD on the ins and outs of the contract.

However, she does say if money is right, this is the right time to get this done.

"When it comes to money, we have an opportunity now because we have other money coming in that is strictly for academics. This makes a difference when it comes to sports and academics because some children excel with one and maybe not the other but it falls into place. Some love books, we need libraries. Some love sports, we need a complex."

Fontenot contends the plan benefits both the school system and the parish economy.

"Having a track will benefit all of the high schools in the parish. That's why the school district is in this process to accommodate a need they have also. This benefits the children and the community and if it goes as planned, there will be a great economic impact because of the activities that will be able to happen at that venue."

"And maybe this is the first catalyst to developing the economic structure we want here in this parish," Charles adds.

The school board must now approve the plan. Board member Haynes say that will happen at their next meeting on the 26th.

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