Wednesday morning’s ceremony announcing a $3 million capital campaign to build the Marshall Faulk Field of Dreams high school football stadium served as the local version of the former G.W. Carver High School legend’s induction speech into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In his remarks, Faulk recognized his mother and a long list of coaches, Carver Rams supporters and friends in professional football who helped him during his journey from the 9th Ward campus to San Diego State to a Super Bowl XXXIV victory with the St. Louis Rams as part of “The Greatest Show on Turf.”
He also offered words of encouragement for Carver students in attendance.
“Sometimes it’s dark. Sometimes it’s hard,” said Faulk, 42, who works as a pro football analyst for the NFL Network. “Sometimes you have no idea where you are going.
“It’s always good to chase a dream. And if you don’t get to that dream, you’re going to get further than not having that dream. So dream on.”
If the capital campaign is successful by June, the stadium will be built in time for the 2016 football season, said Alvin Jones, president of the 9th Ward Field of Dreams board of directors.
It will serve as a home field for what is now Carver Collegiate Academy, as well as McDonogh 35, Eleanor McMain and Warren Easton high schools.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Carver football coach Byron Addison, who led the 2014 football team to the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.
“It’s a really good day for a lot of people. One of the things I’ve been struggling with is kids wanting to play in new facilities. They want to be in their own building. They want to be in their own school. It would be great to have our own stadium. Not many public schools can say that.”
In August 2005, Carver’s campus was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The school had to move into trailers.
The stadium will be on Almonaster Boulevard near the Louisa Street exit ramp from Interstate 10.
The total cost is estimated at $3.6 million. Jones said previous fundraising efforts have brought in $1.3 million.
“We were happy to do this project. This would be the first state-of-the-art stadium and track” in New Orleans, said Sean Turner, an associate at Harry Baker Smith II Architects.
The facility is slated to seat up to 5,000 people, depending on the success of fundraising efforts, and will host events from football and soccer to community affairs.
It will feature a Geo Green turf field, an eight-lane certified track, an instant replay video screen, a VIP suite, and tailgating and parking areas. The site also will host a Hall of Fame honoring area high school players and coaches.
Faulk is sure to be on the list.
Jones, a 1964 graduate of Carver, said the school, which opened in 1958 as an all-black school, was once slated to house a football facility, but the concept was lost during the integration of Orleans Parish schools.
“It was forgotten,” Jones said. “So to get this idea back on track and have the opportunity to develop this stadium and make it something that’s available to our children is very important to us.”
Faulk, meanwhile, said it was an honor to have the facility named after him.
“It never gets old to know that the place that you call home, the place that you are from, you can have dignitaries show up, you can have the mayor show up, people from the Orleans Parish School Board, and try to build something that they understand is special,” he said.
Public officials in attendance included Mayor Mitch Landrieu and City Council members Jared Brossett, James Gray and Nadine Ramsey.