A nearly $1.5 million stadium improvement project that includes the installation of a synthetic turf field should put Bellefontaine back on the radar to host postseason football games, which will provide a big financial boost to the school’s athletic programs and the local economy as well.
Bellefontaine has hosted several playoff games in the past, but the Ohio High School Athletic Association now prefers that contests after the first round be played on artificial turf fields.
“First and foremost, this will serve as a source of pride for our students and community,” said BHS athletic director Matt Comstock. “The ability to welcome other schools and their parents to a state of the art venue will speak volumes about the support the Chieftain community has for its athletic programs. I also see this as an opportunity for us to host postseason games, both in football and in soccer, which in turn will bring in extra revenue for our boosters and our local businesses.”
Through money collected for parking and concessions, host schools can make several thousand dollars for their booster clubs by hosting playoff games.
Wapakoneta hosted four playoff football contests during the recent fall season. Two of those games, Mechanicsburg vs. West Liberty-Salem and Lehman Catholic vs. Triad, seem like a perfect geographical fit for Bellefontaine had there been turf in place.
Renderings of planned renovations and addition to the Bellefontaine athletic stadium were revealed during Monday’s board of education meeting. (EXAMINER PHOTO | MANDYLOEHR)
“An up-to-date athletic facility will greatly improve Bellefontaine High School’s visibility and image,” said AcuSport CEO Bill Fraim, whose company donated $750,000 toward the project. “Hopefully, it will provide for additional events that will draw out-of-town guests and visitors to our community.”
Bellefontaine superintendent Beth Harman and a group of community members began working on a plan to raise funds to put in artificial turf in the fall of 2012. In addition to having a turf field to host playoff games, school officials also were concerned about the wear and tear the natural grass field was taking.
“We knew that when the new buildings were completed, we would be losing the field at the old middle school, and we feared that the grass would not last through a season of high school and middle school football, soccer and marching band performances,” said Harman.
The idea to do a complete renovation, instead of just installing turf, was pushed by Fraim.
“Bill actually asked us to dream big, and to ‘do it right,’ by not only putting in a turf field, but updating the whole facility,” said Harman.
The benefactors will be Bellefontaine’s sports teams, athletes, musicians and fans, among others.
“We had some needs we were facing with our facilities,” said Comstock. “Fortunately, we have a community and a superintendent who have the desire and energy to make this happen. The AcuSport Corp., along with many other local businesses, have gotten behind this project, and without their support something on this scale could have never been possible.”
The new turf and the other improvements are expected to be completed in time for Bellefontaine’s first football game against Wapakoneta next fall.
See related story: AcuSport donates $750,000 for BHS stadium project