Shorter College Proposal Eyes Improvements at Barron Stadium
April 30 - To meet the needs of its growing football, soccer and marching band programs, Shorter College has been researching the possibility of building an artificial turf, multi-purpose field on the Rome campus. A recent proposal by college leaders, however, would benefit more than the college and its student athletes.
Shorter Athletic Director Bill Peterson, at the direction of college president, Dr. Harold E. Newman, and with the approval of the college’s Board of Trustees, has approached the City of Rome about establishing a partnership to make improvements at Barron Stadium. Shorter is considering an investment of $400,000 in Barron Stadium for the propose of adding artificial turf to that facility; in return, Shorter requests rights to use Barron Stadium as a field for home games and practice sessions for its football, soccer and track programs. Already the complex hosts home football games for Shorter, as well as Rome High School Wolves football, numerous track events, the Peach State Marching Band Festival, the Rome Relays Invitational Track Meet and many other annual events.
“Our choices were to take the $400,000 that our trustees have approved for this project and invest it on campus or to utilize those funds in a way that would benefit Shorter but that would also have a positive impact on the entire community,” Dr. Newman explained. “For Shorter, being a good citizen of our community is an important objective, and we believe this investment in Barron Stadium would have far-reaching benefits for Rome and Floyd County.”
Barron Stadium ready for the NAIA Football National Championship game
in December 2008.
Among the most notable of those impacts would be the possibility of establishing a long-term agreement with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to serve as host site for its national football championship, Peterson explained. Rome, Floyd County and Shorter College partnered to bring this championship to Rome for 2008 and 2009. “The successful 2008 event generated an estimated $1.545 million impact on the local economy, and the NAIA was very pleased with the entire event. Unfortunately, the torrential rains we experienced that week highlighted the drawback of playing the game on a grass field, and some coaches and presidents at NAIA member institutions are urging the NAIA to relocate the game to a location that has an artificial playing surface,” Peterson said.
“Our goal is to make Barron Stadium, Rome and Floyd County the long-term home of the NAIA championship,” he added. “Given an expected term of six to eight years, the economic impact for this community would be between $9 million and $12 million. In addition, the upgraded surface will benefit Rome High School, the Peach State Marching Festival, Shorter football, and others who use the venue.”
Shorter’s proposal also recommends that the city consider additional investments in Barron Stadium, which could expand its ability to host other events, including the NAIA national outdoor track and field championships. “The NAIA had such a positive experience with Rome that they would love to bring additional championship events to our city,” Peterson said. “The potential benefits are impressive. With the track and field event, for example, the economic impact could be more than $5 million per year. If we were able to host that event for even two years, the rewards for this community would be substantial.”