News

Island Thrift boosts stadium effort

The fund-raising effort for a new football stadium in Oak Harbor got a big boost this week when Island Thrift pledged to donate $100,000 to the Rotary Stadium Coalition.

The coalition, organized by the Oak Harbor Noon Rotary, is aiming to raise $1 million to help offset costs for a new stadium and athletic facility at Oak Harbor High School.

“We felt it was needed and we’ve helped other organizations get established,” said Jo Balda, treasurer of Island Thrift’s board of directors.

Island Thrift has donated money to many other community organizations, among them the Adult Day Care Services and Respite Center.

With the Island Thrift donation, more than $150,000 has been raised for a new stadium.

A $35,000 portion of that money came from an auction that took place last May at the Elks Lodge.

Jim Palmer, co-chair of the coalition’s fund-raising efforts, said Island Thrift’s donation is the first major sponsorship they’ve received. He added that information is being sent to businesses, including Boeing, for possible donations.

The coalition has also received donations from individuals ranging from a few dollars to $10,000, Palmer said.

The current stadium, Memorial Stadium on Whidbey Avenue, is beloved but dilapidated. School district officials had to condemn the bleachers last year and replace them with temporary aluminum bleachers.

The field is too rough to be used for playoff football. Even though the high school varsity football team was supposed to host post-season games for the past two years, it couldn’t because of the field’s condition.

Should the Rotary’s fund-raising effort be successful, the school district would present a bond election to voters to pay for the remainder of the stadium costs, estimated at $5.5 million. The earliest such an election would take place is November 2005.

The money will help pay for a multi-purpose facility that would be used for baseball, football, soccer, track and field and tennis. It would also be used for physical education classes, band competitions and community events.

To help inform people about the need for a new stadium, volunteers will be on hand during the city’s Fourth of July celebration.

Folks will see a float, which the Rotary sponsors, during the parade depicting the new stadium. During the festivities, volunteers will staff a booth that will have educational materials and conceptual drawings available for the public to view.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at nwhalen@whidbeynewstimes.com.

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