School Board serious about multi-million-dollar sports plex plans

Will Haywood County Schools demolish L.Z. Hurley Memorial Stadium and erect a brand-new sports complex in its place? Or will they build a multi-sport athletic complex on the existing grounds of Haywood High School? Both ideas propose upscale facilities and were discussed during a special called meeting of the county school board Thursday. 

The first option comes with a near $12M price tag while the latter adds up to almost $17M. No action was taken Thursday, but there is new momentum.  

Because of the cost and out-of-box thinking, leaders say they want public feedback. Hassell wants community involvement. “We’re going to put a survey together so there’s an opportunity for community feedback. We’re a public board. The community deserves us to be honest, transparent, and to do business in front of the people,” he told board members Thursday. 


Where parents send their students is a competition these days, Haywood incubates career-minded athletes and the economic recruiting value is significant, according to promoters.

Honestly, our Tomcats may be left behind athletically if we do not have the facilities that our competitors have,” Hassell said.

“The ability to compete at the collegiate level takes both academic and athletic skill. An investment into an athletic facility, stadium, and sports plex will show our students that our community believes in them and supports them in their competitions.”

How newcomers see our amenities makes a difference, too. “It is an investment in community development. A culture of success and winning is contagious, and it can definitely help us grow.”

Where does the money come from?

Funding the project will likely require debt but there may be other options.Once we have a finalized plan, the school board will engage with the county commission budget and education committees to determine a path for funding. It will require a capital project fund, and it will result in established and continued payments to debt service, “Hassell said Monday. “The school board will need to look at current payments made toward debt service and determine the right next step. I anticipate that we could consider several options,” he wrote in an e-mail.

More planning started already

In the September 01 edition of the Brownsville Press readers can see the proposed plans and scan the QR code taking them to the survey. The school board hopes the survey will let them know if the community is in support of the project.


In a note Monday, Hassell proposed a timeline for the project.

• September 1 through 18: collect survey information

• October 14: stadium location decision and plan

• Late October/early November: School Board meets with Haywood County Budget Committee for presentation and funding discussion

• November/December; finalize proposal/funding options

• January: Execute plan