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New Hope-Solebury School District exploring options for a stadium facility

As the installation of its new track and turf field nears completion, New Hope-Solebury continues to look forward. The community has been considering a stadium facility concept for nearly 20 years, and with the recent improvements, the momentum to realize this vision is building.

The first phase of the District’s athletics revitalization project included a $1.6M investment to install a new track, turf field, and concrete walkways. The renovations address critical safety concerns with the track surface and improve field accessibility.

Despite delays in the process due to national supply chain disruptions, the project will be fully completed this month and student-athletes have already started taking the field. The first game occurred on October 1st, when the Lions’ Varsity Football team competed against Upper Moreland.

Student-athletes in soccer, football, lacrosse, field hockey, and track will make frequent use of the track and turf, which will also be used to facilitate the schools’ physical education courses.

“The significant improvements to our Field 2 have been a long time coming,” shares Kris Foulke, New Hope-Solebury’s Director of Athletics and Athletic Trainer, who has been with the District for 12 years.

He continues, “Moving forward, we won’t be forced to cancel games because of drainage issues. We won’t be concerned about student safety on the track. Spectators with disabilities will have an easier time accessing the field on our new concrete walkways. Our teams will not miss out on hosting playoff games due to field issues. These improvements were desperately needed.”

While there is great excitement among the school community about this new resource, some concerns about accessibility and safety remain.

There are basic improvements needed, including a sound system with clear audio for spectators, targeted LED lighting to reduce light pollution, and accessible restrooms.

There is also a significant need for a facility to house audio and visual equipment, which will be used to livestream competitions and to safely capture game footage.

With the recent revision of its 10-year Facilities Plan, the Board of School Directors has allocated $1.1M in public funds to address these aspects of the project – those that present safety and accessibility concerns for student-athletes and spectators.

However, in addition to basic upgrades, the District Administration also sees an opportunity to encourage community participation and to pursue a more comprehensive project – a full realization of the dream for a Lions Stadium.

The larger vision would create a cohesive, enclosed stadium complex with training rooms, a concession stand with refrigeration and water access, and a multi-purpose gathering space for a total estimated cost of $3.5M.

The facility would serve students in many capacities, providing an inspiring space for various athletic competitions, outdoor music concerts, promotions ceremonies, and the School’s commencement.

“This is about so much more than an athletic field. This is a chance to build a symbol of school spirit and celebration for all of our students and their families to enjoy,” commented the High School’s Assistant Principal Erik Pedersen.

“We are still in the beginning phases of this, but we are fortunate that generous members of our community have expressed interest in exploring philanthropic contributions to make this project not just necessary, but inspiring,” shared Superintendent Dr. Lentz. “We feel it is important to clarify for residents of our community that we plan to seek private donations for this project. While there is an intention to address the most pressing concerns with public funds, a larger, more extensive version of this project will not come to fruition without an investment from committed individuals and organizations in the private sector.”

“We have been met with an exciting opportunity to build something inspiring for New Hope-Solebury students, families, alumni, and neighbors. A stadium can be a place to gather and connect in support of our students, which is deeply relevant after two years of the pandemic, explained Deirdre Alderfer, Chair of the Facilities Committee and School Board Member. She continued, “When we as a School Board are presented with the chance to approach a transformative project in both a fiscally responsible, and yet also an aspirational way, we are compelled to consider all options available to us.”

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