Today, Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan Councilwoman Ward 5, along with Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, City Council President Sabina Matos, President Pro Tempore Michael Correia, Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Representative Daniel McKiernan, Representative Raymond Hull, former City Council President Michael Solomon, Tony Simon of the Friends of Mt. Pleasant Park, Superintendent of the Providence Public Schools Harrison Peters, retired New England Patriots Andre Tippett and Pete Brock, and former Providence Steam Roller Emo DiNito, the Providence Parks Department, and the Conley Family joined to rededicate Conley Stadium in the loving memory of World War II veteran and war hero, Joseph V. “Bucky” Conley.
Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan, Councilwoman for Ward 5, stated, “After years of working with stakeholders, we can now celebrate all that hard work and dedication that went into making this project possible. Conley Stadium is poised to become the most prestigious multi-use athletic complex in the state. It’s an honor to be able to stand with Joseph “Bucky” Conley’s family to rededicate this fantastic space in his honor. I can think of no better way to honor the legacy of a man that was so dedicated to community and athletics in our City. I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to reimagine this wonderful stadium and that worked to make it the crown jewel of Ward 5.”
Mr. Conley sustained a life-crippling wound in the invasion of Iwo Jima, and upon his return from WW II, he worked for the City of Providence. In 1962 he became the U.S. Marshal for Rhode Island and was known as the unofficial “Mayor of South Providence,” where his family lived for over 50-years.
“Our parks are some of our most precious assets and have served as community centers and shared spaces,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “This project represents one of several greenspaces across the city that has seen dramatic improvements, in some cases for the first time in nearly 40 years. Through our recently passed Capital Improvement Plan, this project, and others like it, are supporting connectivity between neighbors, improving the local quality of life, and remembering a great leader, Joseph Conley, who has forever shaped our community.”
His family has a long history of dedication to sport and the City of Providence. He was married to the late Serena (McLaughlin) and was the loving father of Serena, Joseph, Kathleen, and James. His family has a long history of being active in the community and community sports. His son, Joseph, was a Pioneer Women’s basketball coach, and he is a member of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League Hall of Fame. His cousin, Dr. Pat Conley, was a several time New England Master’s Champion in the Javelin event.
“Our father would be so proud to have his name attached to this iconic stadium, which has been transformed for the students of Providence,” stated Serena Conley. “For generations to come, the student-athletes of Providence Public High Schools and the thousands of student-athletes that will compete here will have an amazing facility to hone their athletic skills and learn the value of hard work and discipline that comes from sports. We look forward to cheering on our home town teams in the years to come. We wish to thank the City, Mayor Elorza, and Majority Leader Ryan for working so hard to ensure the long legacy of Conley Stadium.”
Conley Stadium was first dedicated in Conley’s honor on May 9, 1966. The original resolution naming the stadium after Conley was passed unanimously by the Providence School Committee and was done so because of Conley’s courage as a United States Marine in the Pacific corridor during WW II, and for his compassion for his fellow citizens and love for children, and his love for athletic competition.
Superintendent Harrison Peters said, “Our students and our community deserve recreational spaces that truly meet their needs. Conley Stadium is a tremendous asset, and I am so grateful to the community leaders who have realized this dream for Providence.”
Conley Stadium has been transformed over the past several years into a multi-use state-of-the-art athletic facility with football, soccer, baseball, and track and field facilities all in one location. The master plan for these upgrades and improvements were done through a collaborative effort led by Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan which included community stakeholders, the Parks Department, and the Providence Public Schools Athletics Department. With these upgrades, Conley Stadium will be able to hold several events happening simultaneously. It is unprecedented in the City of Providence, and the new scoreboard will only enhance the experience for athletes and spectators alike.
Providence will now be able to host invitational track and field contests as well as other sporting competitions in the upgraded facility. Conley Stadium is second to none and is in line with other major athletic centers around the country. It has the best throwing stadium in the state and has a state-of-the-art javelin throw, and the reconfiguration will allow for athletes that compete in multiple events, without having to go very far.
“From design to construction, the Parks Department worked with the school department and the community to bring this bold vision to life for the neighborhood and regional athletics and in honor of the Conley family,” said Providence Parks Superintendent Wendy Nilsson. “We are excited to finally unveil this project after years of hard work, and encourage residents to use the facility while following all the latest health and safety guidelines.”
Facilities enhancements include a state-of-the art artificial turf football field, regulation soccer and baseball fields, track and field components, the extension of the Evelyn Fargnoli Walking Path, improvements to the Mt. Pleasant Little League Fields, and to Mt. Pleasant Park.
Conley Stadium has a long history as a central location for sporting in the City of Providence. It was the final home of the Providence Steam Rollers, who won the National Football League (NFL) Championship in 1928. The franchise initially started at the Cycledome Stadium, where they played from 1925-1931. In 1933 the franchise was given back to the NFL at the onset of the Great Depression.
Nearly thirty years after the Steam Rollers rolled to an NFL championship, Providence fielded another football team that made Conley Stadium home in 1962. They played there until 1964 as part of the Atlantic Coast Football League. In 1964, Jackie Robinson bought the franchise and renamed the team the Rhode Island Indians, where they played at Conley Stadium for one year until the team was disbanded.
This project came to fruition because of the hard work and dedication of Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, City Council Majority Leader and Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan, Providence Public Schools, Providence Public Schools Director of Operations and Chief Athletics Director Jason Menard, Mt. Pleasant High School Athletics Director Paul Rao, Mt. Pleasant High School Principal Chris Coleman, the athletics department at Mt. Pleasant High School, Classical High School Athletics Director Robert Palazzo, Providence’s Superintendent of Parks Wendy Nilsson, Deputy Superintendent of Parks Brian Byrnes who created the Master Plan, the Friends of Mount Pleasant Park, Aramark Resident District Manager Rupert Burtan, Aramark Grounds Manager Joe Conti, Sodexo District Manager Mark Jeffery, and the countless dedicated community members of the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood who worked to reimagine Conley Stadium into one of the regions preeminent multi-use athletic facilities.