VALDOSTA -- Winnersville was abuzz Tuesday with talk of the future of Bazemore-Hyder Stadium following Monday night's presentation by the Valdosta City School System's Stadium Committee at Valdosta High School's Little Theater.

During the hour-plus long presentation, committee members -- David Waller, Bill Aldrich, and Henry Everson -- and Architect J. Glenn Gregory showcased, in detail, three viable options -- an independent renovation, a joint new stadium, and a complete relocation -- for the future of the home of the winningest high school football team in America. And members of the Valdosta Board of Education, Valdosta State University family, and the general public hung on their every word.

Tuesday afternoon, after taking a moment to let everything soak in, University President Ronald M. Zaccari said he and other members of the university look forward to direct discussions with members of the board regarding the stadium issue.

"A joint partnership appears to be the most viable option for VSU's participation," he said.

This "joint partnership" Zaccari refers to involves the building of a new stadium on the present site with the university and Board equally splitting the $9.1 million construction price tag. This plan also requires university officials to pay an additional $2.9 million to the Board for replacement/relocation costs of all operational facilities, with the exception of the superintendent's office, which will be demolished for the purposes of creating additional space and parking.

"As early as February, VSU let the Board of Education's Stadium Committee know that the university was not interested in participating in the building of a new stadium with no other opportunity for land use," Zaccari said. "Therefore, option two, or a joint stadium, seems to be the most attractive at this point. There are still some major concerns with this option since the university would be expected to pay approximately $2.9 million to demolish buildings but would not own the land afterwards. It is my hope that we can have a dialogue about this option. It would be of benefit to have an agreement that at some point in the future, VSU would have an option to purchase the remainder of the block."

The independent renovation, or option one, would center around fulfilling the needs of the city school system alone with the board footing the entire $5.8 million bill. This plan does allow the university to continue to rent the stadium for their use on an annual basis.

Option three requires the board to sell the entire block -- encompassed by Ann, Slater, and Williams streets and Brookwood Drive -- for land value and replacement cost of all facilities, including the stadium. The new stadium would be relocated to the practice field at the high school. The future homes of the remaining facilities have not been determined at this time. While this option would cost the board nothing, it would cost the university an estimated $26.7 million.

"As I have stated repeatedly since becoming president, a stadium is not just a singular issue for the university," Zaccari said. "It must be developed to meet the strategic needs of both VSU and the community. Housing, parking, and the upgrading of VSU's infrastructure are just some of the issues that must be worked upon simultaneously to upgrade our university. These initiatives, including a stadium, are linked. They all will play a major role in helping all parties maintain and enhance the positive economic development of our city and region."

Zaccari said he hopes a stadium authority can be developed that will be in the interest and benefit of both sides. Also, he said ultimately, all of the negotiated points will need to be taken to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia for additional discussion before a final decision can be reached.



To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.



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