Tuesday, September 13, 2016
By Greg Gulas
It was a busy summer for Youngstown State athletic director Ron Strollo.
There also hasn’t been much time for him to rest this fall.
Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s season opening session at Avion Banquet Center, Strollo noted that some facility upgrades have already been completed while those upcoming will continue to enhance the school’s athletic programs.
“Over the summer we were able to re-do the Beeghly Center basketball court, also replacing carpeting in our chair-back seat section,” he said. “This fall, we’re looking to add seats in order to increase the capacity of our softball complex from 200 to about 500.”
The majority of YSU’s athletic facilities include name sponsorships, but naming rights for its softball facility are still being solicited and are a priority.
“We’re always looking for an opportunity to add endowed scholarships, as well as securing naming rights,” Strollo said.
When football season is over, construction is set to begin on a state-of-the-art press box for the East side of Stambaugh Stadium, courtesy of a $1 million donation from Don Constantini, owner of Falcon Transportation and Comprehensive Logistics.
Work is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2017 campaign.
“It will be 20 years next fall since we added stands on the East side in order to make it a two-sided stadium,” Strollo said. “This renovation will change the look and modernize the complex as we update various areas and continue to move forward with its usage.”
Included in the upgrade will be new radio and television broadcast capabilities, as well as a classroom setting and lab area in back that will house the speech and communication department’s sports communications classes.
“This upgrade is necessary in order for us to keep up with the demands of the league and media. Instant replay is now mandatory and we must broadcast our games on the ESPN3 platform,” Strollo said. “Student radio will now have a box in which they can broadcast and we’ll eventually move both home and away radio booths there as well.”
The upgrade will also include interview space and an area in order to run its coaches shows and press conferences.
YSU’s fall teams are currently in full competitive mode — the football team just enjoyed a $500,000 payday for playing at West Virginia — and its cross country teams are set to compete at the University of Buffalo Stampede on Friday. The women’s volleyball and soccer teams are readying for league play.
The addition of bowling as a sport and some roster expansion now means that there will be more than 400 student-athletes on campus.
“We enjoyed an excellent opening night in football against Duquesne. That Thursday game was one of the best ever attended by our students,” Strollo said. “We played well at West Virginia this past Saturday so we’re excited about those possibilities as well this season. With all of our fall teams in full swing and sports like baseball, softball and golf already under way with their fall seasons, there are multiple events taking place daily so this is a very busy time athletically on campus.”
A tripleheader on Nov. 12 will feature the football team hosting Southern Illinois at noon, followed by the annual Coaches vs. Cancer doubleheader at Beeghly Center when Cleveland State plays Kent State at 5 p.m., followed by YSU against Akron at 7:45 p.m.
“All proceeds from those two games will go to the American Cancer Society and we’re honored to once again be a part of such a worthy cause,” Strollo said.
This season also marks the final year for the Horizon League’s basketball tournament at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
“The Joe Louis Arena has been an excellent venue for all league teams, but everyone is now excited that the new Little Caesars Arena, which is set to begin operation next September, will be the new site for our league tournament,” Strollo said.
YSU women’s volleyball coach Mark Hardaway is scheduled as the guest speaker on Monday, Sept. 19.