Raleigh, N.C. — Despite an online effort by students to save it, a landmark building on North Carolina State University's main campus will begin coming down Saturday as the school prepares for the future.
Riddick Field House, which was built in 1936, was once the focal point of N.C. State football, along with adjacent Riddick Field. That ended when Carter-Finley Stadium opened in the 1960s.
Riddick Field was paved over years ago, and the bleachers where football fans once sat were later dismantled. Now, university officials say the two-story field house stands in the way of future development of the eastern end of the campus.
University architect Lisa Johnson said the weeklong-demolition will begin Saturday, starting a process that allows the school to build a two-level parking deck covered by a plaza and academic buildings where the field once existed.
Officials said last week that Riddick Field House obscures sight lines at the end of a pedestrian tunnel under the railroad tracks that split the campus, presenting an unsafe condition. The building is also in the path of the railroad right-of-way and a new thoroughfare being studied to reduce traffic on Stinson Drive and Yarborough Drive.
Johnson said the building also blocks the potential expansion of the railroad tracks to carry a future light-rail line through campus.
"We have known for years, at any time, the North Carolina Railroad could ask us to remove the building," she said.
Despite not being "particularly impressive" in terms of architecture, university officials have already come up with ways to honor the nearly 80 years of athletic history represented by the building, Johnson said.
Officials placed a plaque on Stinson Drive honoring the stadium, and memorabilia from the field house – including the old block S emblem on the outside – has been removed.
Once the parking deck and plaza are up, officials plan to mark the 50-yard line of Riddick Stadium as another reminder of what used to stand there.
Students opposed to the demolition started a petition on Facebook last week in an effort to save the field house and have collected more than 250 "likes."
The founder of the petition told WRAL News he understands why the demolition is necessary but is sad to see the building go.