Park District: East Central
Census Tract: 7 / 8
As it approaches its centennial anniversary, a $1.2 million major investment in Memorial Stadium including safety enhancements, the replacement of artificial turf, improved drainage, new stormwater infrastructure, installation of sidewalks along field ends, and ramp access to bleachers in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is underway. Known as one of the best atmospheres available in a publicly-owned sports venue, the 2,500-person capacity stadium stays true to its long-standing intended use to accommodate multiple sports and provide equitable athletic access for all Ashevillians.
Improvements at the stadium complement recent work at two adjacent neighborhood parks, Oakhurst Park and Mountainside Park.
A community request for open green space off of Buchanan Place led to the creation of Oakhurst Park, completing part of the original vision of the Oakhurst neighborhood’s 1924 master plan. The small park includes benches, natural landscaping, native plants, and the chance to connect with nature just a few steps away from Biltmore Avenue.
To the northeast of the stadium, Mountainside Park received improvements including a monument sign, benches, walking paths, interpretive signage, lighting, entry modifications, landscaping, and drainage improvements that were completed in 2020. This park is also scheduled to receive playground updates such as rubberized surfacing, new swings, benches, and trees to provide natural shade.
Approximately $1 million remains for planned improvements including a walking track, trike track, restroom renovations, Mountainside Park playground expansion and enhancements, scoreboard improvements, and conversion of the concessions building.
Nestled into the side of Beaucatcher Mountain, Memorial Stadium opened as an athletic and special events facility in 1925. McCormick Field, a baseball stadium that borders the stadium on its western boundary, opened a year earlier. The arched entrance to the stadium was built as a memorial to western North Carolina’s 63 military members lost in World War I.
As Memorial Stadium was completed during Asheville’s boom period of the 1920s, nearby neighborhoods such as Oakhurst and East End/Valley Street were also seeing a surge in activity that would define the personality of the community during that time. The northwestern view from the stadium included Stephens-Lee High School and the original Battery Park Hotel – a landscape that would change dramatically as more than 30 new buildings were erected downtown before the stock market crash on October 24, 1929.
The most significant upgrades to Memorial Stadium during the next seven decades took place in 1949 and include a memorial wall dedicated to military lost during World War II. Growth was slow as the City of Asheville maintained its commitment to pay off its pre-Depression debts, which officially took place on July 1, 1976. However, in the years leading up to that proud moment, much of the East End/Valley Street neighborhood that bordered Memorial Stadium was demolished and residents displaced through urban renewal projects, redlining, and the construction of South Charlotte Street.
The stadium for years was the home of both Stephens-Lee High School Bears and Lee Edwards/Asheville High School Cougars. Memorial Stadium originally housed a 12 foot wide cinder track. By the late-1970s, the track had been paved with asphalt, but the stadium was no longer in use for competitive running. Portions remain, flanking the end zones of the field.
Following many years of modest renovations and the possibility of selling Memorial Stadium, renewed community interest led to the formation of the Memorial Stadium Taskforce. That group recommended resurfacing of the field in 2003 to accommodate several sports teams, as well as occasional festivals, concerts, and other special events. The turf was primarily paid for through donations, grants, and the Asheville Splash, a now-defunct minor league women’s soccer franchise. After Asheville voters approved a $17 million bond referendum in 2016 to improve parks and recreation facilities, Asheville Parks & Recreation began planning for the redevelopment of Memorial Stadium and Mountainside Park.
Through multiple neighborhood meetings and listening sessions, the scope of improvements expanded to include the development of Oakhurst Park and additional amenities at Memorial Stadium and Mountainside Park.
- Asheville voters approve bond referendum
- September: East End/Valley Street and Oakhurst Neighborhood Associations input meetings
- November: Input meeting with established user groups
- December: Oakhurst Neighborhood Association input meeting
- June: Oakhurst Neighborhood Association input meeting
- August: East End/Valley Street Neighborhood Association input meeting
- April: Presentation to East End/Valley Street and Oakhurst Neighborhood Associations
- May: Presentation to Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority and Asheville-Buncombe Regional Sports Commission
- July: Presentation to East End/Valley Street Neighborhood Association
- August 1: Community-wide open public meeting at Stephens-Lee Community Center
- August-September: Online open town hall
- September: Presentation to Recreation Advisory Board
- November: Presentation to meeting of established user groups
- Project information available online
- May 11: City Council unanimously approves scope of work by public roll call vote following discussion
- March 10: Presentation at East End/Valley Street Neighborhood Association meeting (view slides)
- March 22: Presentation to City Council covering recommendations for Phase 2 of project (view slides)
- March 22: City Council unanimously approves resolution regarding alterations to Memorial Stadium and Mountainside Park
- April 26: City Council approves resolution authorizing the City Manager to amend the professional services contract associated with Memorial Stadium Phase II improvements
Current Project Timeline
- Mountainside Park playground, lighting, entry modifications, landscaping, and drainage improvements completed
- Oakhurst Park landscaping improvements and installation of new sign and benches completed
- Memorial Field turf and drainage Replacement project competitively bid
- May 11: City Council approves contract
- Summer-Winter: Turf and drainage replacement begins
- Spring: Memorial Field turf and drainage replacement complete and stadium reopens to users
- Mountainside Park and Memorial Stadium Concept Drawing
- Field Rendering
- Staff Presentation – July 11, 2019
- Staff Report to City Council – May 11, 2021
- Staff Report to City Council – March 23, 2022
Wayne Simmons, Parks & Recreation, 828-259-5809
Rebecca Cipriano, Capital Projects, 828-424-5596