YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown native and five-time Super Bowl champion owner of the San Francisco 49ers, Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., will make a $750,000 donation to Youngstown State for its new indoor athletic training facility, the Watson and Tressel Training Site.
The field will bear DeBartolo’s name.
“Youngstown will always be home to me and my family, and it means such a great deal to me to be able to contribute to the completion of the WATTS,” DeBartolo said. “My life has been so enriched through sports and this is my way of helping young athletes achieve their dreams. This championship-level facility will provide the competitive edge for Youngstown State to continue its winning tradition.”
The WATTS will primarily be used by YSU’s baseball, football, women’s soccer and softball and men’s and women’s track teams. The indoor facility will accommodate practices, intramural sports, campus-wide activities and special events. Its location and completion date have not been finalized.
“On behalf of the university and the athletic department, I would like to thank Mr. DeBartolo for his generous gift,” said Ron Strollo, YSU’s athletic director. “It is an honor to know that Mr. DeBartolo is a believer in the people and students at Youngstown State. It is always great when a Valley native gives back to his community.”
DeBartolo’s gift will also help the university create an inner-city program that rewards student-athletes who demonstrate excellence on the field and in the classroom. These students will have the opportunity to attend first-class developmental camps hosted by DeBartolo’s amateur sports company, DeBartolo Sports University. The company offers football, baseball, lacrosse and soccer academies in major cities across the country and will bring camps to the Youngstown community in the future.
“Our university is extremely grateful for this significant contribution by Mr. DeBartolo,” said YSU football coach Jon Heacock. “Having a five-time Super Bowl Champion invest his time, experience, and resources in our university is truly remarkable.”
In July 2007, Ohio State University head coach Jim Tressel and his wife Ellen, and her parents Frank and Norma Watson, donated $1 million to fund the facility.
Tressel spent 15 years as head football coach at Youngstown State and won four national championships in seven seasons. During that time, DeBartolo was building the 49ers into one of the most respected franchises in professional sports, winning 12 division titles, five conference championships and a NFL-record five Super Bowls.
The facility is the perfect opportunity to join forces and support the championship tradition at YSU, Tressel said.
“As a first-time head coach at YSU, it was Edward DeBartolo Jr. that gave me the confidence, guidance, and friendship that I needed to be successful,” Tressel said. “I still have every piece of correspondence that we have shared for these 22 plus years, and I cherish them. To be able to partner with Mr. DeBartolo to positively affect the school we both love and the community that we call home is extraordinary.”