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Saber Stadium Project looks for help in Franklin

School Board asked to consider giving money to effort

Dave Bartels, committee chairman for the Saber Stadium Project, asks the Franklin School Board for financial assistance Jan. 22. Other members of the project stand behind him to express support.

Dave Bartels, committee chairman for the Saber Stadium Project, asks the Franklin School Board for financial assistance Jan. 22. Other members of the project stand behind him to express support.

Jan. 29, 2014

Franklin — The Saber Stadium Project has raised more than $880,000 in five months, but what if the parent group falls short of its $1.8 million goal?

Members posed the question to the Franklin School Board last week, appealing for financial assistance from the district.

The Saber Stadium Project is a group of 16 parents dedicated to improving Franklin High School's athletic fields. Improvements include new turf, an eight-lane track, a video scoreboard and a new goal post as well as other facilities for field events.

The project, which originally set its goal at $2.1 million for the reconstruction, had trimmed the amount down to only the most essential improvements for the first phase of a two-phase process, said Dave Bartels, committee chairman for the project.

Keeping up momentum

The group has raised $881,000 in committed donations with more than $252,000 already in the bank, but mounting pressure to begin construction by spring has members concerned about the momentum of their fundraising efforts, he said.

"The support we've seen from the community has been incredible," Bartels said, "but we're concerned that this interest and enthusiasm will wane if this project doesn't happen this year, making fundraising in the future much more difficult."

The group would consider the district's financial assistance a loan until the total amount could be raised, he said.

"You said you're worried about the enthusiasm dying," School Board President Janet Evans said. "Well, we just put in $1.2 million for the concession stand and the bathrooms, and one of the nice things about that was it was kind of a kick-start for this project so that people would see that and we were told they might be enthused to contribute to this.

"If the school district would loan you the money and the project got started, perhaps people would not be enthused anymore to give that money because they saw the project was already going on."

Looking long-term

Bartels said the group members will continue to raise money for at least the rest of the year.

Once complete, the stadium can help pay for itself, he said.

"These improvements will increase district revenue with the new ability to host track events, host pom, cheer and band competitions, and by having other athletic groups host tournaments and host special events there," Bartels said.

Although the board was receptive to the request, Superintendent Steve Patz suggested the group return with a definitive amount needed from the district.

"I think we have to start by April, if at all possible, otherwise it's not going to get done (this year)," Patz said. "... There's a lot of infrastructure work."

Check it out

■ For information on the project, visit SaberStadiumProject.com.

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