December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria Schools alumni interested in renovating Ely Stadium

Ely Stadium is in need on a new, updated scoreboard for football games. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

Ely Stadium is in need on a new, updated scoreboard for football games. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — While Elyria Schools is getting a new $75,000 scoreboard for Ely Stadium, the addition has reinvigorated talks of improving the aging stadium.

School board member Mike Gebhardt told fellow board members Wednesday that he has been approached by a group of community leaders who are interested in leading a fundraising charge to replace or renovate the antiquated stadium. The 87-year-old venue, built in 1927 on land donated by William Ely, hasn’t seen any major repairs in years.

Building the field of dreams will not be simple or cheap, board president Don Boddy said.

“The school board is open to having this dialogue in the community because we know the need is there and frankly, it will take a community effort to get it done,” he said. “The district does not have the money to pull off a project of that magnitude.”

Boddy said the group led by well-known Elyrians like Bob DuPont, Terry Doan and Terry Shilling will be invited to a board meeting to present any ideas they have. It also would be the time the board explains what a new stadium would entail.

“They need to hear it’s a lot more than just putting down turf, which is real popular for some people,” he said. “There is a whole domino effect that would start more repairs. I am just guessing here, but I think we can say upwards of $5 million or $6 million for a full stadium project.”

Boddy said an all-weather field would have to be larger than the current field to accommodate a soccer field. That would lead to a new track, which would move the stands back. Rebuilding the stands also would mean rebuilding bathrooms, locker rooms and concession stands.

Superintendent Paul Rigda said groups have talked for years about fundraising for the stadium. These most recent talks are in the very early stages with no commitments having been made by community members or the district.

Still, Elyria alums haven’t stopped dreaming, especially after nearby Midview Schools received six-figure gifts leading to the dedication in 2012 of Ross Field in Adelsberg Stadium. DuPont and 1999 alumnus Doug Medvetz took to the crowd-sourcing website indiegogo.com in 2013 with the hopes of creating a groundswell of support.

That effort raised only $200 and has since ended, according to a tally on the website.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.