The Viking Pride Foundation (VPF) will form a committee to help raise awareness for the need for a new multi-purpose, turf stadium on the site of Miller Field.
Vincent Crossman, VPF chairman, presided over an organizational meeting held Monday night at the E.B. Newton School building. Crossman told the group that VPF is working in coordination with Town Manager James McKenna on what they hope will result in a new stadium for the town.
Town Council President Peter Gill, who voiced his support for the project, and head football coach Sean Driscoll, who has long advocated for a new stadium, were in attendance at the meeting.
Crossman explained the sequence of events that led to Monday’s meeting.
“Basically we got a call from the town manager saying that we have this [stadium] project and we need a group that can help, be involved, and try to push and get awareness in the town about the field and the needs of the field,” said Crossman.
Crossman added that Miller Field is in “very rough shape,” noting the heavy use of the field by high school and youth teams and the fact that there have been no home high school track meets at the field since 2008. The facility is not accessible for physically challenged individuals.
The town hired a company to draw up plans for a new stadium. A drawing of a beautiful, new stadium, complete with new bleachers and a new regulation track, was available for view at the meeting.
Crossman said any stadium project faces an additional and expensive hurdle.
“The issue is that the drainage in the whole area of [the Winthrop] golf course comes from all the highlands that drains down in to the golf course area,” said Crossman.
Crossman said that DEP informed the town that those drainage issues need to be addressed in cooperation with the stadium project.
“The DEP will not approve anything to be done from Miller Field over to the golf course unless this drainage issue is addressed,” he said.
Following talks with officials, Crossman estimated the cost of the drainage project would be between $7-8 million. “That presents a significant challenge to us,” said the VPF chairman.
Crossman estimated the cost of a new Miller Field with artificial turf to be $3.5-$4 million.
There is universal agreement among many parents, coaches, student-athletes, and VPF board members that a new field is a virtual necessity in the town. Revere will unveil its brand new Harry Della Russo Stadium tonight (Thursday) for the Class of 2015 graduation ceremony. Other communities in the Northeastern Conference, including Lynn, Beverly, and Gloucester, have either built new stadiums or undertaken major rehabilitation efforts. Chelsea and Everett also have multi-purpose, turf stadiums.
“We thought as Viking Pride that we need to get a group of people together to pool our ideas,” said Crossman. “I don’t think and the town manager doesn’t think that these two projects can be completed without the use of public funds – so there has to be some type of a debt exclusion referendum to make these projects go.”
Crossman said that Speaker of the
House Robert A. DeLeo has been working in an effort to secure funding for the project. “The Speaker is very much in tune to the need of this project. Coach Driscoll and I met with the Speaker last week to discuss the project.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Crossman asked members of the audience to join the VPF committee that will be meeting regularly to discuss and plan a strategy for the stadium project. The committee will operate under the umbrella of VPF. A stadium fundraising committee may be formed at a later date.