By Kalea Hall
A groundbreaking for a new, estimated $700,000 turf at the future Boardman Spartan Stadium off Nisonger Road will take place some time this month.
The contract for the turf has yet to be awarded by the committee for the stadium, just part of a $3.7 million, privately funded plan for a new stadium to replace the 1930s-built facility off Market Street.
“To get it where it needs to be, the whole facility would have to be replaced completely,” said Tim Saxton, director of operations for Boardman schools.
The plan for a new stadium began in 2007 when the district realized some of the facilities, including the stadium and Boardman Center Middle School, needed to be updated.
Twice, bond issues failed to help raise funds for updates. It was then decided to make the stadium fundraising a separate endeavor and get the boosters involved.
For the past three years, enough money was collected to start on the turf. Next will be the stands, scoreboard, press box and a new facility for the visiting team.
About 25 percent of the funds for the project have been raised so far, and Saxton is hoping to have every element of the new stadium complete by fall 2015 for the first season in the All-American Conference. He said that schedule sounds “aggressive” but is necessary.
The grass field at the current stadium and the wooden bleachers are costly to maintain for the district. Anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 annually can be spent on the upkeep of the field, while the life expectancy of turf is 10 years. The new aluminum bleachers will provide accessibility for those with disabilities and will seat 7,500. A new video scoreboard will be capable of showing instant replays and commercials for businesses.
“We could make a great campus here,” Saxton said.
In addition to football, soccer also will be played on the field, and the track meets also will remain at the new stadium.
“I don’t believe we are building a new stadium. I believe we are building Boardman,” Saxton said.
Saxton played at the old stadium in the 1980s and knows the connection the community has to it, but he said the students are excited to add something new to Boardman’s campus.
“Tradition isn’t in bricks or mortar,” Saxton said. “Tradition is in the programs.”
For information on how to sponsor the new Spartan Stadium, go to boardmanstadium.org.