Group desires to resurrect concept of sports activities stadium in ninth Ward
“It’s a great project,” said former city council president Arnie Fielkow. “I scratched my butt and now we have to go out and collect the money.”
NEW ORLEANS – A new nonprofit led by local politicians, a former soccer star, and community members seeks to raise $ 5 million to revive a failed stadium project in the upper 9th district.
The new group, named 9th Ward Stadium Inc., is seeking $ 1.5 million in capital expenditures from Louisiana law that will determine which projects to fund in July. If the group gets this money, they will have to raise $ 3.5 million from private donors.
The group held an online community meeting Monday night to reveal their plans and allay fears after a previous project called the 9th Ward Field of Dreams spent $ 1 million on donations that had nothing to show .
Former city council president and current CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, Arnie Fielkow, was an early donor to the Field of Dreams project a decade ago. Then he learned that his money was being used for field lights and lawns that are now missing and may never be found.
He is now asking donors to renew their trust in a larger, larger stadium project under the new group of the 9th Ward Stadium, along with the great Deuce McAllister of New Orleans Saints, former Ann Duplessis state senator, civil engineer Roy Glapion , former school board member and current member Stacy Martin, executive of the Collegiate Academies, Bobby Garon, executive director of the Jewish Endowment Foundation, and Mark Ripple, architect.
“It’s a great project,” said Fielkow. “I scratched my butt and now we have to go out and collect the money.”
They plan to build the new stadium on the New Orleans Public Schools land north of the new George Washington Carver High School operated by the Charter School Group Collegiate Academies.
Fielkow said the school district plans to approve a collaboration agreement with the 9th Ward Stadium group to have the nonprofit raise the money and then hand the project over to NOLA Public Schools to build. Under the agreement, NOLA-PS will launch a public call for proposals to hire a contractor and an outside management company to operate the stadium.
It would serve as a home field for carver sports, but also as a field for public schools across the district, Fielkow said.
At the online meeting on Monday, community members asked how to trust the current organization after being burned by 9th Ward Field of Dreams, which received national media attention as a beacon of recovery for the neighborhood before it failed spectacularly.
“I said you know me, I represented you. I was your councilor, ”said Fielkow. “I was sick of seeing these kids not getting the opportunity they were promised (by Field of Dreams). I said the only thing I can promise you is that we will have the utmost integrity and will work really hard to raise the money. We took our 12 months to achieve this. “