In an effort to improve fan experience for both race fans, and fans of Winston-Salem State University football, the city of Winstom-Salem has announced plans to invest $9 Million to improving Bowman Gray Stadium, with work likely starting in 2020. City council will still need to vote to approve changes, with the vote expected to take place in coming months.
Once thought to be sold to the University at some point, the track will see major renovations, including extensive work to both the race track, football field, and press boxes. Other improvements will be made to enhance the experience for fans, with parking lots being extended, seats repaired, concession stands and restrooms replaced, and yes, Wi-Fi being added to the facility. Water and electrical systems at the track will also be repaired or replaced completely.
“This is a historic facility here in our community and it hadn’t been upgraded in a long time as you can see by the cost of the renovations that are going to be needed. We feel like this investment in this facility will benefit our citizens by having a wonderful jewel that is available for racing, for football and other events here in our community,” said Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines.
With plans for the city to sell the Stadium to Winston-Salem State University being help up by numerous factors, the investment is a compromise of sorts to keep the WSSU Rams football team at the stadium through their lease ending in 2037. The school has begun a 20-year plan in place to build their own on-campus football stadium. As part of the announcement, the University will no longer look to buy the stadium, and will relinquish operations of the stadium to the city of Winston-Salem.
Of course this development is music to the ears of racing fans, as rumors of the future of racing at The Madhouse have circulated through recent years. Also excited are the promoters of racing at the historic track, such as Bowman Gray Racing promoter Gray Garrison, who looks forward to seeing future generations of fans enjoy racing at the historic facility.
“It’s an 80 year old facility and it needs a facelift and the city is recognizing that and we’re thankful that they’re going to ask our opinions on what we think as well as Winston-Salem State University’s so we do have a little different needs as far as the activities we do but our common thread is the fan. We all want the fan here to have a great experience and with the restrooms and the concession stands, that’s going to benefit everybody,” says Garrison.“I think it’s going to be great for the next generations to come and see the racing.”
The timeline for the renovations looks to have the football field, as well as concessions stands, restrooms, ticket booths, and water and electrical systems renovated in 2020. 2021 will see east and west side press boxes, as well as the field house renovated, with 2022 hoping to be the completion of the project, with work done to parking lots, landscaping, concrete, and seating areas, as well as the addition of Wi-Fi service.
Officials do not anticipate the moving or cancellation of racing or football events during the project. Project leaders say that changes to ticket prices will be determined by WSSU, and Bowman Gray racing promoters respectively.
Holding it’s first event in 1938, this is Bowman Gray Stadium’s first renovation project since 2006.