Scheduled Remodeling for North DeKalb Stadium Sparks Discontent


North DeKalb Stadium. Photo by Caitlin Kirk.

Noa Benveniste, Author

Last year on May 24, a vote was held in DeKalb County to determine if the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) was to be renewed for another five years. ESPLOST is a one percent sales tax which helps to fund school county improvements.

The last referendum, ESPLOST IV that the county voted on took place in 2011 and it allocated money to “install synthetic turf and replace lighting at stadiums,” according to the DeKalb County E-SPLOST Advisory Committee.

North DeKalb Stadium, along with the other four stadiums owned by the county were originally scheduled this work for May 2016. However, now the stadium will be closed from January to August of 2017 for remodeling.

“We will not have access to the stadium from January through the school year and we’ll have access to it after the summer,” said Chamblee Athletic Director Jeremy Karassik.

The renovations are long overdue for the stadium that was built in 1962. Every spring semester, the soccer and lacrosse teams play with muddy conditions or with very little grass on the field, since the field is never reseeded until the summer.

“They didn’t go into any specific details about if they are redoing the track or stadium renovations. As far as I know, they are only putting turf at North DeKalb Stadium,” said Karassik.

However, the timing of the remodeling is inconvenient for the spring sports seasons. Without Chamblee’s home stadium, the soccer and lacrosse teams will be forced to play all of their home games at other DeKalb stadiums.

“We are all pretty disappointed, especially us seniors. We are sad that we don’t get to spend our last season playing lots of home games especially because there is a big chance we will win our region,” said senior Samantha Lancaster, the girl’s varsity soccer captain.

Without a the home stadium being so conveniently close, there will be less student support at the games and parents will be more reluctant to travel to the games that are far away.

“I’m upset because now we won’t even have a chance to have a student section, and senior night won’t be at the stadium. That’s such an inconvenience for parents and friends,” said junior Martha Wilber, a varsity soccer player.

In addition, spring sports teams will have to compete for limited practice space.

“We already have a shortage of space. We only have the one practice field, baseball is out on their field, boy’s and girl’s lacrosse, four soccer teams, plus you have track that needs to go somewhere,” said Karassik. “It’s going to be a mess. It’s going to be a lot of space sharing and we haven’t quite worked out logistics yet, but it’s going to be a real team effort and it’s going to be an ugly team effort.”

Because the stadium will be closed through the summer, graduation, which is normally held at North DeKalb Stadium will now be at the Georgia World Congress Center, which is a 25 minute drive from the school.

Although the scheduled remodeling of North DeKalb Stadium has already caused problems for the high school, the field will benefit the coming generations of students at Chamblee.

“I’m glad they are finally remodelling. It needs to be done and we’ll save a lot of money on it. I feel that they could have picked a better time to do it,” said Karassik.