East Providence City Council-at-Large Candidate Bob Rodericks Asks Council to Fix Pierce Stadium
"A few years ago city employees couldn't even buy grass seed to keep the stadium field in good shape. Shameful." - Robert Rodericks
East Providence City Council-at-Large candidate, Bob Rodericks, addressed the City Council at the September 18th meeting in which he expressed concern over "a pattern of neglectful maintenance at Pierce Stadium." Rodericks said that he has heard from many in the city who were disappointed at the lack of a scoreboard or sound system at Pierce Stadium as the current sports season has begun.
"We had a state-of-art sports and entertainment stadium at Pierce and it has been slowly deteriorating," said Rodericks. "The lights are failing, concrete needs work, the ancient sound system doesn't work anymore and the scoreboard is broken. At one time the stadium was a focal point for athletic and entertainment events for East Providence and beyond," Rodericks said. "It was considered a jewel of Rhode Island as a sports and entertainment venue."
"A few years ago city employees couldn't even buy grass seed to keep the stadium field in good shape. Shameful. The only reason the stadium looks good to the naked eye is because quality workers like Joe Medeiros and now Tony Vieira work magic to piece it together. Colleges and others were donating paint and grass seed to our workers. The football field sound system went down last Thanksgiving and the ancient scoreboard was damaged by storms last March. Insurance money was received last March and it is unacceptable to still be in this broken down situation," said Rodericks.
"Another issue is the broken bathrooms in the Pierce Field building behind the baseball field. The bathrooms have been out of order for a very long time. Summer campers, baseball game visitors and others have had to use porta-johns or run to the football field bathrooms. They are still out of order. This is absolutely unacceptable and giving our community a black eye with visitors to the stadium," Rodericks said.
"I know there is a process to solicit bids, etc., but these problems are more an example of what happens to a city when there is a lack of preventative maintenance on infrastructure. Schools, streets, recreational areas all need regular maintenance. Recreation is important to our residents. This is not a frivolous complaint. I believe it goes right to the quality of life in this city. Many family events are held at Pierce. Fireworks, concerts, people jogging and walking every day, it goes right to the valuation of our homes and property."
"Insurance money in the case of the stadium scoreboard was received last March. If we continue to let property and recreational upkeep go ignored, it will soon be beyond repair and a drag on any development plans we may hope for this city," added Rodericks.
There is a rich history to this complex. Pierce Memorial Stadium was built under the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal agency of the Federal Government during the 1930’s. Completed in November of 1939, the stadium cost $300,000. The field bears the name of one of East Providence's most prominent residents, W.B. Pierce who had bequeathed a trust fund to the town to save this land specifically for recreational use. On November 30, 1939 Pierce Stadium opened to the public in time for the traditional Thanksgiving Day football game between East Providence High and La Salle Academy. The Townies won, 10 to 0.
A professional soccer game in 1980 featuring world class athletes like Portugal's Eusébio, brought 12,000 visitors to Pierce. In 1959, Harold Gomes of Providence fought and won the World Junior Lightweight boxing championship, in a national match set up in the field.
A stone memorial inside the stadium gates commemorates the time when both Babe Ruth and Ted Williams put on separate hitting exhibitions inside Pierce. In September 1941, Ruth put on a hitting exhibition which was followed the next day by Red Sox Great Ted Williams.
Pierce has also been home to annual fireworks displays and concerts featuring local musicians and many national acts like America, Three Dog Night, The Guess Who, and Bonnie Raitt to mention some.
Earlier, Damian Ramos of the EP Youth Mohawks athletic organization also addressed the council on deplorable conditions on the basketball site at Pierce. "The court surface is very bad. It's starting to get really dangerous," Ramos told the council. "I wanted to start the conversation with the city to maybe raise funds to renovate and maybe move the court to a safer place. We have over 600 kids using the facility. Pierce is central to the city, parking is there, we would like to help fix this," said Ramos.
"One of the reasons I'm seeking election to the city council is to help bring leadership to city hall. I can promise that preventative maintenance is one of many areas I will keep in the forefront of government," said Rodericks. "We will get back the pride."