‘A great addition’

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 8/6/20

Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon recently unveiled his plans to renovate the Mickey Stevens Sports Complex at 975 Sandy Lane. The complex was created 40 years ago, and this plan would serve as the first …

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‘A great addition’

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Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon recently unveiled his plans to renovate the Mickey Stevens Sports Complex at 975 Sandy Lane. The complex was created 40 years ago, and this plan would serve as the first notable renovation since being built.

Renovations would include an AstroTurf field stadium that can seat up to 4,000 people, an 8-lane tournament-level track, futsal [similar to soccer played on a hard surface], pickleball, tennis and basketball courts, refurbished baseball and soccer fields, a skate park, a looping walking trail and a playground and splash pad. A new parking lot will have 717 standard spaces and 32 handicapped spaces. Solomon also mentioned the possibility of adding a third ice rink to the city.

For Toll Gate and Pilgrim, the complex will serve as the home field for athletic teams, providing new facilities for schools to enjoy. Although Pilgrim has athletic fields on campus and may continue to use them moving forward, the new location will expand the school’s flexibility further.

As for Toll Gate, the new complex will be a great relief considering the school’s only sports facilities on campus include a practice football field and a nearby soccer field at Winman Middle School. The school also uses the tennis courts at Winman as well.

“It’s something that has been a long time coming and I hope it plays out. I think our kids and our city desperately need something, that area has kind of gone downhill over the years. I remember as a kid playing there, having tennis lessons, the high school used it. Since then, it’s been let go and neglected. I hope the renovation comes about,” said Toll Gate athletic director Bill Russo.

The Toll Gate baseball team, in particular, has been itching for a new field for a number of years, according to Russo.

“Baseball is excited. We’re a little different even than Pilgrim since they have a baseball field, a softball field, soccer fields. At Toll Gate, it’s unique since we do not have fields on site. So I know the baseball team is excited since they have been practicing and playing games over at Mickey for quite some time. It’s tough for them having to be shuttled to and from. It will be a great addition,” said Russo.

Not only will the renovations, which are slated to begin in the summer of 2021, assist with the local schools, but they may also lead to the city hosting statewide events and beyond.

“It will be great to have one, central facility. Bottom line is, for us, we’re hoping that our kids get a deserving place to practice and play their games, and for Toll Gate, to have that at a central location. We’re welcoming any type of upgrade. We would love to (host statewide events), we haven’t been able to over the years due to the lack of grounds. Hopefully this will open the door for that. That would be huge for the city,” said Russo.

Pilgrim football coach Blake Simpson added: “It’s about time. It’s great for the city, great for the kids sports-wise. It’s going to bring a lot of revenue to the city, and now instead of scrambling to find a place for 7 on 7’s we can host some. Especially if we make the playoffs, to be able to play there will be great.”

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