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New track, stadium idea gains traction
Nunley Stadium.jpg
School officials continue to entertain options about what to do with the track at Nunley Stadium. There’s also talk of building a new stadium at WCHS.

A projected renovation of the Nunley Stadium track may be taking a detour to Warren County High School as a result of an engineering study released this month.

Supporters for building a football stadium at WCHS might take heart as well because a new track could become the catalyst for that decades-old idea.

Allmon Engineering of Cookeville revealed a number of challenges, many of them costly, in renovating the existing track at Nunley Stadium at Warren County Middle School. 

The track was a gift to the school system and community from The Rotary Club of McMinnville, which raised the funds for the project more than 30 years ago.

Civil engineer Dave Allmon met Tuesday with Warren County Director of Schools Dr. Grant Swallows and WCHS athletic director Todd Willmore. Another key participant was Richard Manning, MBA CPA, project director for Noon Rotary, which is a partner with McMinnville Breakfast Rotary.

Aside from ballooning cost projections, the Nunley Stadium track renovation suffers from an insurmountable difficulty: lack of adequate space for the eight track lanes required for a full slate of competitions.

“After extensive study, it has been determined that our current facility, Nunley Stadium, will not ever be able to host track events because of lack of space,” Swallows said after the Tuesday meeting.

“With that in mind, now is the time to begin studying options for the future,” Swallows continued. “There are lots of options and lots of discussion will take place as we discuss the master plan for all of our facilities moving forward.”

“I realize it would be a long-range goal,” Willmore said when asked Friday for his thoughts on the possible change of plans for the track. 

Postseason competition requires eight running lanes, but the Nunley Stadium site is limited to the present six because it is constrained by the earthen bowl and massive concrete formations for seating areas for spectators.  

If the track were developed at the high school, it could become Phase 1 of a multi-phase, multi-year concept for a new stadium that could host football, soccer and other events, Willmore speculated. None of the participants in the Tuesday meeting were willing to offer an estimated timeline for possible stadium construction, if ever.  

The local Rotary Clubs informally agreed in 2019 to a cost-sharing program with Warren County Schools for Nunley Stadium track refurbishment. At that time, officials were estimating the cost at $60,000 to $80,000. 

But Allmon’s detailed study discovered physical problems in building on the existing track. As a result, the cost projection soared to $250,000 to $360,000. And that would be for a six-lane track, not the eight mandated for postseason competition.

“The idea of spending $300,000 or more at Nunley Stadium and not creating opportunities for students is questionable,” Manning said. “There is absolutely no way to get postseason competition at the present track,” he stressed, suggesting that any new investments be directed to top-class facility that would draw the attention and admiration of schools and communities across the state.

Conceivably, it could be another asset in Warren County’s portfolio of incentives for up-market, high-paying industries.

According to the published agenda for the Warren County School Board meeting this Monday at 5 p.m. at Dibrell School, Swallows plans to address the track project briefly in his regular operations report.