All the way back in 2007 a decision was made to start planning for a new stadium for Boardman High School. After some debate on how the stadium would be funded, which ultimately led to the defeat of a couple of bond issues, the edifice is finally ready to take shape. On June 20, an official dedication and groundbreaking was held at the site of the multi-purpose stadium off Nisonger Road.
''We are on schedule (to use) the stadium at the end of August,'' said Tim Saxton, director of operations for Boardman Schools and head of the stadium committee. ''It should be a go for soccer, junior varsity football and freshman football, too.''
Of course, the main event to take place in the stadium is Spartan varsity football. The reason the big Boardman kids won't be hosting opponents at the new site this fall comes down to building enough bleachers.
Photos by Jim McCreary
Participants in the Boardman stadium project groundbreaking, from left, are Tim Saxton, director of operations; Denise Gorski, athletic director; Vickie Davis, school board; Kim Poma, school board; Bill Bonte, Booster Club president; Fred Davis, school board; John Landers, school board; Frank Lazerri, superintendent of schools; Pam Kimmel and Frank Constantino, Home Savings; Phyllis Beard, Beard Family; Gwen Smith-Darnell, Smith Family; Tony Valentini, Boardman Gridiron; Jim Gasior, Cortland Banks; Joe Pinciaro, Bob Stackhouse; Dave Baker, Sweeney Auto Group; and Greg Ensley, Farmer's Bank.
''We won't have the seating capacity to host a varsity crowd yet,'' Saxton said. ''Everything else is looking good, though.''
Things were looking so bad at the old stadium, located on the property of Boardman Center Middle School, that some changes were necessary. That stadium was built in the 1930s when only about 150 students were involved in high school athletics.
With the boom in both participation and support since that time, the middle school structure has deeply deteriorated. The amount of action has rendered the field nearly unplayable and mangled the bleachers to the point of being unsafe.
The new bleachers will be made of aluminum, will be wheelchair accessible and seat 7,500. A video scoreboard also will be constructed and capable of showing video replays and advertisement.
With the field in the condition its currently in, it is impossible for the Spartans to practice on it. Plus, there are no locker room facilities for varsity players, meaning the team must use the BCMS auditorium stage during pregame and halftime.
Saxton said the turf being used to fill the new field is made of synthetic material. The cost of the turf and everything needed to install it is roughly $670,000 and is expected to be completed by Sept. 5. The total for the entire renovation is $3.7 million.
Since the bond issues did not pass, the Boardman Boosters Club began a fundraising initiative to earn the necessary monies.
''We are grateful for the investment in Boardman. We thank the Booster Club and countless donors who are making this dream a reality,'' Saxton said in a press release.
Last week, Cortland Bank made a $20,000 donation to the Boardman Booster Club to go towards the multi-purpose stadium project. The Boardman Booster Club has promoted the Boardman students for over 50 years and supports several school activities.
''The fundraising campaign has been successful thus far, thanks to the generosity of the Boardman community and alumni,'' said chairperson Bill Bonte in a press release.
Besides soccer and underclass football, the legendary Boardman marching band and baseball and softball teams will utilize the field for practice. Saxton hopes to have every element of the new digs completed by football season 2015. Coincidentally, that is the first season Boardman will be battling in the All-American Conference.
''Building a new stadium is long overdue for the community of Boardman,'' Saxton said. ''The Boardman Schools have a long tradition of being excellent. It's time our stadium meets that same standard. I don't view this as building a stadium; we are building Boardman!''
For new athletic director, Denise Gorski, the stadium is a welcomed addition to the sports department.
''It's an exciting time to be a part of an outstanding new facility that will benefit many teams, the band, and physical education classes. It will be a first class facility which our students definitely deserve,'' she said. ''The turf will benefit many of our athletic programs--from our youth to our feeder programs to the high school programs...We won't have to cancel contests due to bad field conditions. The turf will allow so much more versatility in scheduling many different teams and contests throughout every season.''