Friday, November 21, 2014

A Field of Dreams
May 29, 2014 by Jamie Ward | No Comments

Cardinal Huskies Foundation shoots for stars with high school football complex.

To unite a community around its schools, the Cardinal Huskies Foundation has unveiled plans for a $1.5 million sports complex to be completed for 2016 fall athletics and funded entirely outside of the school district’s budget.

An event for the media on May 21 was led by Foundation Board President Gary Cox, who is invested in the schools as a community business owner, resident and parent of two young Huskies.

“This is a great day for the Cardinal School District,” Cox said, then introduced Williams Amya and Chris Koschki, Auburn juniors and designers of the project, to explain the concept decision-making, with the main entrance on the south side.

Field lighting, concessions and restrooms are Phase I slated for completion in spring of 2015. Phase II, including artificial turf and and an eight-lane, all-weather track, are slated for completion in spring 2016.

Donor names will be featured prominently at the new stadium’s entrance.

Total estimated cost is before donated materials, which are already rolling in.

Cleveland Plumbing Supply Co. will donate plumbing supplies; Carter Lumber of the Burton-Middlefield area will donate concession stand materials; and the Village of Middlefield will provide substantial financial support, Cox said.

“With those people right there, without speaking out of turn, I feel like we almost have Phase I paid for,” he added.

Curtis Mullett attended as branch manager of the Middlefield office of Cleveland Plumbing. He said the foundation approached one of his salesmen to trigger the partnership: “We decided as a company, the ownership, the Morviliuses, to contribute to the local town here.”

For the rest of the funds needed, matching grants can be acquired from the National Football League, the Soccer Association or others, Cox said.

Raising them is a challenge, organizers say, but some similarly sized districts in Northeast Ohio have done it, such as Conneaut in Ashtabula County.

“I’ve actually talked to most of them just to find out, how did you do this?” said Athletic Director Andy Cardinal. “The objective here is not just to get a track and a turf field — it’s to make a center for our community. That’s something we don’t have right now.”

The part of the project that excites Cardinal most, he said, is that this is a project spearheaded and led by community members, not administration.

“It’s exceeded so far beyond what I imagined,” he said. “And it will be something that will benefit our fourth graders, our fifth graders; it’s not just our high school kids.”

Among other features, Amya said he designed the ticket booth to house two people with windows on both sides, and Koschki said two of the concession stands will be handicapped accessible.

Field events for track will be positioned between the endzone and the track, called Zone D.

Stands will be shuffled: the current away stands will be moved to the home side, and the visitors side will get new ones, seating 3,000, Cox said.

“That way we can host district track meets, regional track meets, playoff games for football. (Use can also come from) the soccer team, the band, the rec department,” he said. “With all the youth sports that go on here, now you don’t have to worry about tearing up the field. And opening it to the community is the big thing so they can come here and enjoy it, too: walkers, runners.”

Cardinal Superintendent Scott Hunt agrees: “We want Cardinal Schools to be the hub of the community. If the schools are great, the community will be great. Now we’re trying to connect the dots between our businesses, government and schools to get a focus back here and get people involved.”

The Huskies Nation Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) organization formed this past January with school board support, is also led by Bill Poole as president, Mark Longrich as treasurer, and Greg McClain as secretary.

The complete committee is about 15 people meeting once or twice monthly.

“I think it’s a great cause, it’s a great community,” Cox said, “and you know, just like people come here for Middlefield Cheese, you can come here now and look at the new stadium.”

Kim Breyley, managing editor of the Middlefield Post, has created a Facebook page to feature drawings and updates at www.facebook.com/HuskieNationFoundation.

Tax-deductable donations can be made at any Middlefield Bank location or by mailing a check to PO Box 382, Huskie Nation Foundation, Middlefield, OH.

For more information, contact Gary Cox at 440-728-8158 or garyscox1@gmail.com.

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