The school district is hoping to have the new Tommy Roberts Memorial Stadium, home of the Key West High School football team, mostly finished in July 2023, in time for the 2023 football season. 
The approval and permitting process that’s needed before construction can begin has been time-consuming due to soil contamination at the site. 
In the meantime, the football team will continue playing its home games at the newly renovated Backyard field behind Key West High School. But the 2023 baseball team likely will need a temporary home, school board member Bobby Highsmith told the Keys Weekly on Wednesday, the day after the school board heard a construction update from Pat Lefere, the school district’s facilities manager. 
The baseball complex, known as Rex Weech Field, backs up into the football stadium and will necessarily be affected by the football stadium replacement.
“The baseball field in the high school Backyard is not a regulation field,” Highsmith said. “There’s space behind the school for them to practice, but I’m thinking maybe Bernstein Park on Stock Island could be an option.”
The upcoming 2022 baseball season will continue to take place at the usual Rex Weech complex, as construction will not have started by this spring, Highsmith said.
School Board Chairman John Dick wondered aloud at Tuesday’s meeting whether the school district should consider postponing the construction start until after the 2023 baseball season.
“As it stands now,” Lefere said, “the 2023 football season is scheduled to take place at the new stadium. If we delay the construction, that will be a third football season that’ll have to be played at the Backyard. And we’ve been told it will be a very tight timeline to get the work done before the 2023 baseball season.”
Highsmith, a former Key West football player, said at the meeting that he’s been frustrated with “all the hoops we have to jump through for this.”
“To me, this stadium is the crown jewel of Monroe County School District athletic facilities and it’s a very significant part of community life in Key West.”
Highsmith told the Keys Weekly that the football stadium “was old and decrepit when I was playing there back in 1983 to 1986. Unfortunately, there’s going to be groups of kids impacted by all this. I’m open to any reasonable accommodations and adjustments.”
As this week’s school board meeting occurred in the Upper Keys, Superintendent Theresa Axford emphasized that the stadium discussion will continue at the Feb. 8 meeting in Key West.

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