It has been 12 years since a home football game has been played at Cranston High School West due to the condition of its field.
Now, a public-private partnership between the city of Cranston and the Cranston High School West Alumni Association aims to revitalize the field as a home for football and more.
The association will host a gathering March 21 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the project. The event will be held in the Cranston West Alumni Auditorium, which was recently restored through the association’s efforts.
Although the field is known as the football field, the project will seek to create a multi-use field complex that can accommodate football, soccer and lacrosse.
According to Tony Liberatore, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, the start date for the project is targeted for July 1. Planning, he said, has been in the works for quite some time.
“The city’s Parks and Recreation Department had requested a $2 million referendum to fund parks and recreation projects during this past voting cycle,” said David DiMaio, president of the Alumni Association. “That referendum passed, and of that money, $600,000 was allotted for this project. Two years ago, the planning committee requested $950,000, which was approved for synthetic turf to be installed on the field. All of that money is there and an additional $600,000 has been approved for the project. The city has committed to the new turf, new lighting and a new scoreboard. The city also has a grant writer who is exploring other opportunities for grant funding which could be used for the project.”
The Alumni Association’s involvement will expand the project even further.
“The Alumni Association is working to raise additional funds for additional bleachers and a new, expanded press box as well as new restroom facilities,” DiMaio said. “We will also be adding an outside seating area outside of the snack bar.”
On March 21, the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors will be seeking local businesses, individuals and other community partners who are interested in supporting the project through either monetary or in-kind donations such as labor or equipment. The hope is to also identify anyone who may be interested in exchanging labor and supplies for any materials from the site, such as loam.
According to Liberatore’s estimates, the project could be completed during the fall season.
The school department does not maintain or fund anything related to Parks and Recreation, and Liberatore noted that although the field is located on the Cranston West campus, all recreational facilities related to the schools fall under his department.
It is Liberatore’s hope that the Cranston West complex will experience the same success as Cranston Stadium, where West currently plays its home games.
“Since we installed synthetic turf at the Cranston Stadium, we have raised $3.8 million by renting the facility to outside groups,” he said. “In order to increase revenues to the city, we plan on doing the same thing at Cranston West. In 2007, it cost the city $840,000 to install the synthetic turf. In 2017, it cost $950,000 to redo it with new goal posts. We’ve brought in a net cash flow of $2,010,000 since then, and the stadium has a minimum of nine more years of use. It’s already paid for itself. It is my thinking that the West field will pay for itself in approximately five years.”
Liberatore said he feels the work on the Cranston West field is long overdue.
“As parks and recreation Director, I believe that the Cranston West athletes have gone for too long a period of time been playing on the road, even for home games,” he said. “It’s about time that the players, coaches and administration have home games again.”
Principal Tom Barbieri agrees.
“As principal, this has been one of the things on my bucket list,” he said. “It will be very good for the community as a whole and very good for the school. Personally, it also will give me a sense of nostalgia, remembering the days when all sporting events were played at West and the students could walk out of the school safely and go over to the game.”
The field will be green with red end zones and the Cranston West logo in the center. DiMaio has been working with a local artist to create renderings of potential designs.
City Council President Michael Farina, who is a graduate of Cranston West, and Mayor Allan Fung both also spoke in support of the project.
“As council president and a graduate of Cranston West, I am proud to support the addition of a multi-sport turf field at Cranston West,” Farina said. “This field will be used by student athletes for lacrosse, soccer, football and other sports. This is another example of a great public-private partnership to upgrade facilities … As we have seen with the rental fees generated with Cranston East’s turf field at the Stadium, a second turf field at Cranston West will pay for itself over time. I can’t wait to see my first event at the renovated field, see the Falcons come home and look forward to seeing the Falcons fly high.”
“I am very supportive of the project to renovate the stadium and the field at Cranston West. This is another great example of government and community organizations coming together to make a good project extraordinary,” Fung said. “Tony Liberatore and his parks and recreation crew have been doing a wonderful job throughout the city to make sure our fields meet the needs of our students and community programs. We can’t thank enough the Cranston West Alumni Association for partnering with us for the stadium renovations while we install the new turf field. It’s a win-win situation for our students and the community as a whole.”
Those interested in being a part of the project can attend the meeting on March 21 or contact DiMaio at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 588-1313.