The Schuylkill Valley School District celebrated a milestone when they broke ground on their new stadium project at 6:30 p.m. in the current stadium on May 22. The project is set to be completed in September 2017.
“This stadium is about 55 years old, so this is really a long overdue moment for the district. And it’s been a longtime getting here,” said Schuylkill Valley Superintendent Dr. Warren F. Mata.
The renovations include installation of an artificial turf playing field for multiple sports, an all-weather track surface, new LED lighting, a press box and a new ticket booth entrance. The stadium currently has a grass field and one of the last two remaining cinder tracks in the county.
“I want to give you a sense of who that stadium is for. Of course, it’s for our students, our athletes, but it’s also for our community. If you’ve ever seen the front fields this time of year, we have a lot of community athletic teams and they’re also going to have access and use of this,” said Mata. “The turf itself is much more durable so we don’t need to be as careful about it.”
The installation of an all-weather track and regulation-size turf playing field will enable increased use of the stadium facilities to accommodate outdoor athletic team field sports such as football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse.
“These are really exciting times for Schuylkill Valley,” said Schuylkill Valley School Board President Kevin Raudenbush. “I’m celebrating my tenth year on the board and it was ten years ago when we started talking about doing something here at the stadium. And it’s finally going to happen.”
The board voted in favor of funding the initial phase of the project in October 2016. Prior to that, the Schuylkill Valley Panther Pride Stadium Committee, formed in November 2014, raised funds and community support through solicitation of digital scoreboard and stadium sponsors, annual golf outing fundraisers, custom t-shirt sales, personalized brick paver orders for the new Panther Pride Pathway, and various individual donor and athletic organization contributions.
“The real thanks tonight for what’s happening goes to our Board of Directors,” said President of the Panther Pride Stadium Committee, Kellie Butsack. “We’ve been working for the past year and a half or so fundraising for this project but it was really the school board who stepped up last fall and said ‘We’re gonna back this and we’re gonna get it rolling.’ So really the thanks goes to the School Board for accelerating this project.”
The committee plans to continue their efforts by raising additional and ongoing financial support to fund a permanent field house for concession, locker room and storage needs, as well as anticipated maintenance, upkeep and future add-on needs for the project long-term.