New Athens Drive Stadium Construction to Begin in March


Photos by Athens Drive Website

A proposed map of the new Athens Drive stadium.

Daulton Bahm, Online Editor

During the final week of March, construction is set to begin on a new Athens Drive stadium for athletics. Some have cited safety concerns about the existing Williams Stadium, such as the emergency access road being unpaved and dim lights. The existing Williams Stadium is over 35 years old, as it was constructed in 1978 at the same time Athens Drive High School opened. Some have also said that the stadium is difficult for students with special needs to access, which they see as a concern as Athens Drive had the largest population of special needs students of any Wake County high school in 2013.

Karin Evanoff, a member of the Jag Club and an Athens Drive parent, has been attempting to get Athens Drive to build a stadium for several years. She is a strong supporter of the new Athens Drive stadium, as it would give students with special needs improved access to athletic events.
“Many of them [the special needs students] can’t even get into the stadium,” said Evanoff in a 2013 interview with the News & Observer.

Alvin Thompson, the Athletic Director at Athens Drive, is also a strong supporter of a new stadium.
“It’s not even big enough for two cars. Imagine a big ambulance trying to get through,” said Thompson in a 2013 interview with WRAL, referring to the unpaved emergency access road, which some see as unsafe.

After several times of being dropped from funding plans, the stadium upgrade was included in a Wake County Schools bond voted in 2013. The stadium improvements are estimated to be worth over five million dollars. There was some controversy about whether the stadium should be built or whether the money should have been used for more classroom funding, which some people see as a better option. Paul Coble, former Wake County Commissioner, initially did not support the stadium funding but changed his mind after Athens students, parents and staff convinced the county to move forward with construction of the stadium.

The original Williams Stadium is also going to be used, but it will be refurbished with a new track, handicapped accessible grandstands, upgraded coach desks and a new field drainage system. While Varsity football and soccer are expected to move to the new stadium, it is expected that the existing Williams Stadium may be used for Junior Varsity sports or lacrosse.

The new competition field is going to be located behind the school, which is currently a multi-purpose practice field. The new stadium is not the only update coming to Athens Drive’s athletic facilities. A new basketball and volleyball court will be built around the new stadium area, and a currently wooded area will be cleared for a new multipurpose practice field. A new parking lot will be constructed just off the recently renamed Jaguar Park Drive for visitors to the new stadium. The existing baseball field and tennis courts will continue to be used, although the tennis courts will undergo a renovation. In addition to the stadium parking lot, the senior parking lot is also going to be expanded and the existing gravel Williams Stadium parking area will be paved. The stadium is expected to be ready by the start of the 2016-17 school year.

The Athens Drive Jaguar Club is also hosting a Memorial Brick Paver sale for the new stadium, which will last until the end of March. There will be two zones for the engraved bricks. In Zone One, which will be located at the entrance of the new stadium, 4×8 bricks will be sold for $150, 8×8 bricks will be sold for $200 and large 12×24 granite bricks will be sold for $550. The location of Zone Two has not been announced. Bricks can also be purchased in Zone Two, for $50 less per brick. Checks and forms for buying bricks must be mailed to Karin Evanoff, 202 Asbill Court, Cary, NC 27518 by March 24, 2015.