$10M plan would overhaul Randall Park to make stadium for Woodrow and community athletics

A 2012 photo of Woodrow baseball in Randall Park. (Photo by Lisa Sutton Whitten)

When it comes to sports, Woodrow Wilson High School is a conundrum — it has produced two Heisman Trophy winners but does not have a dedicated football stadium. Now, a group of parents are looking for a solution for that decades-old problem that could lead to a $10-million overhaul for East Dallas’ Randall Park, including a 5,000-seat stadium.

“We want to do something to that park that would make the neighbors happy. That park is not well utilized. You don’t see families using that park,” says Maria Hasbany, PTA president, who is quick to emphasis the improvements would benefit the whole neighborhood, not just Woodrow. “It’s not going to be Woodrow’s stadium — it won’t have our name on it. It’ll be a parks department stadium that we would just have first right of refusal on.”

She’s equally quick to point out that the plan is nothing more than an idea, so far. The parents would need support from both Dallas ISD and the city parks department, something that has not yet been accomplished. Nonetheless, the PTA and the Booster Club hosted a meeting last week to discuss the how to move plans forward.

“We’re just in the preliminary stages of talking to people in the neighborhood,” Hasbany says. “We need to find out if we are going to have enough community support to go out and raise the money we need to get this thing built. Because we’re going to have to raise a lot of money to make this work.”

The stadium would be built where the rather desert-like soccer field currently exists, which is used by both local schools and neighborhood youth athletics. The dream includes retractable seating to allow it to be used for both soccer and football. In addition, the overhaul would transform the entire park into an athletic facility with new tennis courts, a track and additional field space for the marching band and Sweethearts drill team to use. The current field and track at the high school, which is in failing condition, would become a parking lot to provide for the growing school and additional facilities. It would be open to Woodrow as well as other DISD schools that lack proper athletic facilities, such as Bryan Adams.

“We hope there’s a win-win for the school and the city in that they get a nice athletic facility for everyone to use,” Hasbany says. “We have to get to the right people at parks and the right people at DISD to make sure we have permission and buy-in before we do anything else. If they don’t contribute anything, I don’t think it’s really feasible — $10 million is a lot of money. But if they could contribute maybe half, I think we could do that.”

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Via email, Booster Club president and Woodrow parent Shannon West said, “The booster club is going to seed some money to get the ball rolling — we need about $10,000 to get the drawings, scope and cost of project and then we will have to figure out who is going to pay what.”

They have gotten preliminary support from neighbors Juliette Fowler, who would like to see some new life in the park. Just 15 years ago, Randall Park was marred by crime and drug use with limited functional use to the school or the community. An effort led by Woodrow boosters and athletic director Bobby Estes made the park more useable, particularly for the school’s athletics department. But since then the park has suffered from limited maintenance.

“There has not been the best activity happening in that back area of the park,” Hasbany says.

Currently, Woodrow plays its home games at Franklin Field by Hillcrest High School, which “costs a fortune in buses,” Hasbany says, plus is inconvenient for parents and students who want to attend the games.

Hasbany says the idea of transforming Randall Park into a proper athletic facility for Woodrow and the neighborhood has been kicked around for years. An effort was almost launched five years ago, but then the Lakewood Elementary Expansion Foundation got busy bringing improvements to the over-crowded school, which are now fully funded and under way.

“It would have been the same donor base,” Hasbany points out, “so we decided to wait. This seemed like a good time to revisit it. But at this point, we’re just talking. Nothing official has been done.”

Advocate interns contributed to this post.


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  • Los_Politico

    Glad you can do math, you must have missed reading comprehension day. I did use the words “something like” 😛

    So now, have you asked yourself how Woodrow can have 168 spots for students, but manages to house 1771 students? Why do you think the ratios would be different for gamedays?

  • Livin’ on Reiger

    I’ve been thinking about your comment and, as I enjoyed my walk to the lovely Randall Park today, I thought it might be fun to get actual facts rather than count on your misinformed guesses.

    The City of Dallas owns the park. If a stadium is to be built in Randall Park, the city would own it. The park has exactly 86 parking spaces. Yes, I counted the handicapped spots, too.

    DISD owns the schools and it’s parking lots. There are168 spots in the Woodrow student lot and 136 in the Woodrow teacher lot. 304 total for Woodrow. Long only has teacher parking and there are 122 spots.

    On the street there are 30 spots used for parents and buses at Long and 52 spots at Woodrow. That’s 82 spots on the street.

    So, let’s add that up…
    86 for Randall Park
    304 for Woodrow
    122 for Long
    82 on the street

    My public school upbringing tells me that is somewhere around 594. Hum, that’s less than half of what you said. Where did you pull your number out of? Oh, never mind… I think I know.

  • Pingback: Hear from all the East Dallas candidates (City Council and DISD) this Wednesday - Lakewood/East Dallas()

  • Los_Politico

    Munger Square is closer

  • Barbara Lambert Cohen

    This is NOT A COMMUNITY DRIVEN PROJECT.

  • Barbara Lambert Cohen

    This is a BAD IDEA. This is not for the community.. SAVE OUR PARK!!!!!

  • Barbara Lambert Cohen

    AGREE

  • Barbara Lambert Cohen

    SAVE OUR PARK!! We are a neighborhood. We are a community! The park is very utilized. The park is a path to the santa fe trail. the park is a place for children to play , people to walk their dog or simply rest under the beautiful Live Oak trees. The park is a place for the people of Juliette Fowler to sit and enjoy the outdoors. The park is a place for kids to meet and just hang out. Run down the hill at top speed . ride bikes with out fear of being run over by cars. the park is a place to gather.

    This is our ONLY PARK in our neighborhood. Junius Heights borders this park.

    THis is a neighborhood.
    Build it across from your house.

  • Los_Politico

    Football games are not 2 per car, more like 4.5. The school already has something like 1,200 spots.

    Also, you don’t own the spot in front of your house. I do. So does my mom on the other side of town, and the the kids visiting from Kimball.

    If Woodrow continues to grow into the top level neighborhood high school we all know it can be, you’ll be able to sell at a huge profit and complain to your new suburban neighbors about candy wrappers.

  • Los_Politico

    Band noise? Seriously?

  • Livin’ on Reiger

    It’s enough that we have to endure the Woodrow/Long drop off and pick up times… Parents blocking our driveways, candy wrappers/litter in our yards, and fights/smoking/graffitti in our alleys. We knew that going in.
    I like the HC parade and the Long Run. I don’t mind a couple of annual parking inconveniences, but that’s only a couple hundred people at most.
    5,000 people on Friday nights plus Saturday track meets, etc? That’s probably around 2,500 cars. There’s no way to build a parking lot that big where the track and practice field are. The neighborhood would HAVE to eat the overload. We didn’t sign up for that! I am terrified what this might do to my home’s resale value because who in their right mind would sign up for that?

  • Stacy Malphurs

    Hate the idea. The neighbors would have to endure stadium lighting, parking insanity on Fridays for a 5,000 person capacity, the noise from marching bands (and not just Fridays- they’d be practicing through the week as well), and all of that just to satisfy the few who play football at the expense of a multi-sport, family friendly park space. Thumbs down!

  • PaulSims

    If the boosters are hoping for $5,000,000 from @dallasparkrec, they’re in for a very, very long wait. The Park Department hasn’t been on a city of Dallas Bond Program in over a decade. And if we’re lucky enough to be on an upcoming bond (which is looking less and less likely), $5M is a realistic total for parks for an entire council district. Spending it all on half a stadium for DISD is simply not realistic.

  • dallasmay

    For your Comma-Delimited reading pleasure:

    DISD Stadiums, Address, City/State/Zip
    Cobb Athletic Complex, 1702 Cullum Boulevard, Dallas, Texas 75210
    Forester Athletic Complex, 8233 Military Parkway, Dallas, Texas 75227
    Franklin Field, 10000 Hillcrest Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75230
    Jesse Owens Memorial Complex, 9191 South Polk Street, Dallas, Texas 75232
    Loos Athletic Complex, 3815 Spring Valley Road, Dallas, Texas 75240
    Pleasant Grove Athletic Complex, 8228 Maddox, Dallas, Texas 75217
    Seagoville Field, 819 Jack Street, Seagoville, Texas 75259
    Sprague Complex, 3606 Boulder Drive, Dallas, Texas 75223
    Wilmer Hutchins Complex, 5520 Langdon Road, Dallas, Texas 75241

  • Oooo love this thanks for sharing!

  • dallasmay

    If you are interested, here is a map of DISD’s current football stadiums:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5f07e7f88da08d4f012d971171beebccd075c533c58675b1661027ce71870379.png

  • 3GensofWildcats

    OMG, Woodrow needs so many more parking spaces… Visitors are only allowed to park in the strip across the front of the school, but with the “teacher lot” and “senior lot” overflow, a lot of those spaces are taken by students, as well as the parking across the street at Randall. If this thing gets built, there will be no need for the current field or track. Yes to the athletic complex AND more parking!

  • Los_Politico

    Love the idea, but please don’t pave the current field, we don’t need that much parking.