At least one Richmond Community Schools official believes if the district buys and renovates McBride Stadium, students, families, residents and even additional youth teams will come and enjoy the landmark.
RCS Chief Operations Officer Karen Scalf presented a detailed plan to the school board at its Wednesday, Sept. 27 meeting about what she called an unprecedented opportunity for the district that could also “revive a community jewel.”
“It certainly seems like there are multiple benefits to obtaining that property,” RCS board President Nicole Stults told WWN on Sept. 28. “We are excited to explore the opportunity to see if it’s a good fit for RCS.”
Scalf outlined potential benefits and costs of purchasing McBride Stadium and its John Cate Field from Richmond Parks and Recreation Department. The field is named after the longtime Richmond High School coach who still helps maintain it. He’s currently working on it for fall leagues.
RCS would pay $12,000 for the stadium and adjacent fields, which it currently rents for RHS baseball games. Two other teams typically playing there each year are Seton Catholic High School and Richmond Jazz, a member of the Great Lake Summer Collegiate League.
Scalf noted extensive work would be needed immediately for grandstand roofing, landscaping and fields cleanup, concrete, and security, adding many dollars to the price tag. She showed pictures of some urgently needed repairs, saying expensive wood damage could be prevented if roofing takes place before wintry weather.
Some other timely concerns include painting, bleacher repair, fencing, public address systems and scoreboards. McBride was built in 1936 and its most recent major renovation was in 1995.
RCS would spend capital funds instead of general fund monies toward the facility, Scalf said. Work would begin quickly to prepare for RHS games starting in March while additional improvements are made next summer.
With more land, RCS could rethink its athletic facilities, she said, and possibly move RHS softball there too in its second year of ownership.
Freeing up the softball diamond could provide flexibility to move current RHS tennis courts where less expensive maintenance is required. Water currently stands on the courts, leading to resealing/recoating about every three years.
Board member Kristen Brunton also noted that the area is congested with school buses, so having additional land options could be beneficial.
Scalf said she believes the facility could have extensive use since baseball and softball are now three-season sports. Ownership also could lead to increased community partnerships and revenue generation if desired for youth leagues as other communities such as Westfield do.
Richmond Family YMCA recently studied youth programming and learned that baseball and softball are its No. 1 interest that the community doesn’t have enough facilities to offer, Scalf said.
Scalf said the main field could be converted to be available for Little League, softball, baseball and soccer.
Shortly before the pandemic, Union City built a new stadium for approximately $300,000 to $350,000, and Scalf said that likely would cost $400,000 to $500,000 now. Much of that was spent to grade the property, which is already done at McBride.
Scalf thanked parks department staff, Richmond officials and others for all they’ve done at McBride. However, she said if RCS doesn’t buy the stadium, conversations must take place about what facility investments could be needed for the district’s kids. She said it’s hard to make those investments when renting facilities.
Every sport is super important, and all kids need a good place to play or practice, Scalf said, but that has been more challenging to provide for some sports more than others.
A version of this article appeared in the October 4 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.