High school football stadium quality in New Orleans below standards
A parent walked into a gymnasium for an AAU basketball game in Duncanville, Texas.
The parent heard a ball bouncing in the gym, and assumed that was where is daughter’s team would be playing.
The parent was mistaken.
“No sir,” said the gentlemen in the gym. “This is the 9th grade gym. Varsity is down the hall.”
Down that hall was a gymnasium more plush than any in south Louisiana.
On the flight home to Louisiana, the parent wondered why the kids at home seem to play in many sub-standard venues?
That isn’t the case in many parishes around New Orleans but in the city, especially in football, our children are not treated nearly as well as those to the east and to the west.
Tad Gormley Stadium hasn’t been significantly updated since the U.S. Olympic Trials were held there in 1992.
A dilapidated press box is only one of the many issues at Gormley. The bathrooms are not good, even worse if you are a lady.
Gormley was built in the 1930’s in the Works Program Administration, an organization formed by President Franklin Roosevelt to get Americans back to work during the Great Depression.
Almost a century later, a fixture in New Orleans prep sports needs a considerable makeover. Unfortunately, City Park, who runs the stadium, is reportedly in a severe budget crisis due to the effects of the pandemic and shutdown.
Nearby in the park, Pan American Stadium is a functional facility at best.
In Jefferson Parish, Hoss Memtsas Stadium and Joe Yenni Stadium were upgraded to include turf fields, improved restrooms, lighting and enclosed press boxes.
Both sites got new football locker rooms.
Those efforts were led primarily by the late Ray St. Pierre, a former football coach and parish councilman on the West Bank and later with assistance from then councilman Marion Bonura on the East Bank.
Joe Brown Park in New Orleans East was renovated and then dedicated in January of 2012.
Victory Field was made possible by the efforts of many, including the Allstate State Sugar Bowl and the Brees Dream Foundation.
But we can do so much more.
Or can we?
In a time of great financial stress due to COVID-19, state budgets are stretched. Even before the pandemic, there seemed to be no urgency to build more stadiums.
Sulphur, Lafayette and Baton Rouge attract an array of tournaments in many different sports.
Why? Because they invest in facilities that bring events to their towns, and fill hotel rooms.
In the meantime, we lament when many of our children leave the state for better jobs and opportunity.
We can do better, can’t we?
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WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM
Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…