New stadium will help sports teams, engage community

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Soon, where Taco Taxi once stood on Lake Street, people may come to watch one of South’s sports teams play.

The school district has bought the two blocks in between South’s current stadium and Lake Street, and plans to remove the street in between them and rebuild the stadium to extend all the way to Lake Street.

The new stadium will be double the size of the existing one, and include a new track as well as much improved conditions for sports teams at South. Plans may also include lights for the field, and a press box which will allow South to host evening sporting events. In the past these events have been few and far between, only a possibility with rented lights.

The new stadium will help to address much-needed improvements for sports teams at South. Cardarelle talked about how South’s current field is very small for soccer, “It’s wouldn’t ever be FIFA regulation [size]. It barely makes it for the state high school league. That’s why you see the lines go as close to the track as possible to make it, it barely squeezes in it.”

The school district has bought the two blocks in between South's current "Les Barnard Field" and lake street. If proposed plans go through, a new stadium will be built, utilizing this whole space.

Oscar Cozza
The school district has bought the two blocks in between South’s current “Les Barnard Field” and lake street. If proposed plans go through, a new stadium will be built, utilizing this whole space.

Players have also complained that the terrain of the field is a bit uneven. “It would be nice to have a better [soccer] field.” said Isaias Bruggeman Cohen, a sophomore and soccer player. “Our field is a little bit slanted, so it’s hard to play on it. If we got a new field it would be better.”

The new stadium will also come with a new and larger track. South’s current track is very worn and could cause injury among track players. “Suburban tracks, for example, you have many layers [of tar] on a track.” said Senior Katie Mae Kaelin, captain of the track team, “but South’s track, they put the tar and then right underneath it is concrete, so what has happened is the tar has ripped off and then there is concrete in various places. … It’s a lot harder surface and the fact that we’re running at a fast pace, landing in that way on your feet is not safe.”

For this reason, South does not host track meets at it’s outdoor track, and is not permitted to host sections games for soccer or football. These events are potentially good publicity for South, and would give South a stronger presence in Minnesota State competitions.

The new stadium proposal is part of a larger project involving the city and the Farmer’s Market, in which the school district is selling the Adult Education facility by the intersection of Hiawatha and Lake Street.

The Light Rail Station by Hiawatha has a reputation for crime and hostility among South students. CNO Executive Director Eric Gustafson says that this has been a driving factor in the CNOs push for renewal in Corcoran.

“During an April 2013 CNO workshop on pedestrian safety at South High, several students stated that when dropped off at South High after dark, following a sporting event, they will walk all the way to the 38th Street LRT station (almost 1 additional mile) to avoid the short walk from South High to the Lake Street / Midtown station.” read the CNO’s proposal for the new facilities. “Students of nearby South High school contribute a large share of area pedestrian activity, especially since the transition from yellow school bus service to school-sponsored student use of Metro Transit services.”

The renovated light rail station will include a permanent area for the Midtown Farmer’s Market, a public plaza that would be utilized by the nearby YWCA to teach free fitness classes, free parking and retail stores on Lake street. The CNO said that they will involve the South community and “invite participation from South High school through strong and established working relationships with its student leadership and Principal Ray Aponte, including work on the 2225 East Lake development.”

This renewal of the Corcoran neighborhood, including South’s new stadium will allow more opportunities for students and adult community members, as well as incorporate more than just sports into it’s ambitions. Amy Cardarelle, the athletics director explained that “[the stadium is] gonna be not just for South students but community based, adult based education.”

This map shows where the proposed development for South's new stadium and the LRT station will be.

Graphic: Oscar Cozza
This map shows where the proposed development for South’s new stadium and the LRT station will be.

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