Memphis Inner City Rugby hopes to turn vacant lot into sporting complex

Plans to refurbish Vance Middle School lot

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Organizers with Memphis Inner City Rugby have big dreams for the vacant lot that was once Vance Middle School.

"It'll be the first of its kind in the entire country where in an urban community, Memphis Inner City Rugby is a very unique organization and to have a home for us is crucial, our kids deserve that and we know it'll help propel them to even great opportunities," said Shane Young, executive director.

Shane Young, Executive Director for MICR, and Michael Duetsch, Board Chairman, hope to transform the space into a rugby sporting complex.

It will be complete with two to three athletic fields, state-of-the-art lighting, a pavilion for restrooms, concessions and storage and a beautification area for South City residents.

"it just makes sense for our kids to have a local solution and one where we can bring programs and not only at the high school level but also at the collegiate level," said Duetsch.

Vance Middle School closed in 2014.

The Shelby County Schools Board has plans to demolish the building.

In the meantime, MICR has used the space to hold rugby practice and its first ever home game.

"I'm beyond grateful because if we didn't have them to help us then we pretty much wouldn't be where we're at now," said Nadia Burton, player.

Nadia Burton is a MICR player from Freedom Prep, she and other athletes say rugby changed their lives.

"It feels good to have support now because coming from the team when it first started, I was part of it and we really started from the bottom," said Selena Jones, player.

MICR leaders have had several meetings with Paul Young, Memphis Director of Housing and Community development, about plans for the complex.

“We certainly support the work that they’ve been doing with Inner City Rugby, and we support them using the site in the future. Our hope is that they’re able to co-locate with other uses that continue to advance the community and I think there’s enough space on that site to do that,” said Young.

WMC Action News 5 reached out to the Shelby County Schools Board.

Board Chairman Shante Avant says MICR will have to propose this idea to the board. They will then vote and decide what happens next.

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