Former NFL standout Michael Zordich still wants to build a multi-purpose stadium .
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- A year ago, former NFL and Chaney High standout Michael Zordich teamed with local architect Ray Jaminet to promote a plan for a multi-purpose stadium for the city's high schools.
That plan isn't dead.
"We are going to do it," Jaminet, head of the Chaney Gridiron Club, said. "We're going to make it happen. But we want to do it downtown, next to the convention center."
The stadium, which is projected to cost around $5 million, would be used by the city's two high schools (after Rayen and Wilson consolidate in 2007) and by the two parochial schools, Mooney and Ursuline. The plan got a mixed reception from city leaders when they presented it last year, and Zordich and Jaminet decided the timing wasn't right to move forward.
"We do have cooperation with the [Youngstown] board of education and the diocese of Youngstown, but the timing, even for myself, just isn't right," Zordich, now a businessman who played 12 years in the NFL, said. "We want to put a lot of time and effort into it and we've still got a lot of things to clear up before we can move forward."
The main one is location. City leaders are considering several options for using the land next to the convocation center, including a park, a riverwalk and an amphitheater.
The proposed stadium would seat 8,000 people -- 4,000 on each side -- with two press boxes, four home team locker rooms and two visiting locker rooms.
"We want each team to feel like it's their home field and it's their locker room," Zordich said.
The stadium could be built in a horseshoe shape next to the arena, Zordich said. According to that plan, the north side would have a view of downtown above the one-story locker rooms and the south side would be open with a view of the river. The artificial turf field would be equipped for soccer and football. The stadium could also have an all-weather track, "but if the funds are tough to find, that might be one of the things we eliminate," Zordich said.
When asked how they would finance the stadium, Jaminet joked, "We're going to hold up a bank."
"It's going to be hard work, there's no doubt about that," Zordich added. "But we think the people in the community will step up the plate."
The city's five high schools pay $2,500 per game to rent YSU's Stambaugh Stadium during football season. Stambaugh seats close to 21,000 people, which Zordich feels is too big for high school football.
"It's a great facility, but when you're playing a high school football game and you have 8,000 folks there, it's still pretty much empty," Zordich said. "We've talked to the people at YSU and it's not a problem there. They're for what we're trying to do. And there will still be an opportunity to play at YSU, so we're not saying we'll lose YSU permanently."
Zordich isn't sure when he and Jaminet will move forward with the plan, but it's unlikely anything will happen until after the November election.
"We're just taking it day-by-day," he said. "Everything is pretty much in place, it's just about finding that right time frame and going after it."