City Councilman Sean Dunne has established new endowment funds at the Scioto Foundation on behalf of The Friends of Spartan Stadium and The Friends of the Portsmouth Skate Park. Proceeds from the funds are designated to be used exclusively for the benefit of upgrading and/or maintaining the two facilities.
Dunne, who has spearheaded the efforts to renovate Portsmouth’s historic Spartan Stadium built in 1928 and to create a new skate park for the city, said he “defines both projects as coming from a new and promising collaborative approach involving community members, college students and faculty, city council, city government and local businesses. It is inspiring and the way forward for both.”
A professor of sociology, Dunne said support for the stadium renovation idea grew out of his senior seminar courses where he directed his students to be proactive, to contribute to discussions and develop articulate and educated voices about local issues. One student in those classes discovered a grant opportunity sponsored by State Farm Insurance which led to Portsmouth’s placing second in a nationwide competition for a $25,000 award to help with Spartan Stadium improvements.
The Scioto Foundation provided a grant to fund painting of the stadium walls. SSU students in an alternative spring break class prepped the walls for painting. Dunne also credits Notre Dame alumni and many volunteers for helping with stadium renovations.
A major grant, seeking funds for further stadium improvements in the next biennial state budget for cultural facilities will be submitted in November 2020, to the Ohio State Legislature, Dunne said.
“Seventeen teams in the NFL can trace back some connection to Ohio,” Dunne commented. His overall goal is to get outside funds to renovate the historic structure.
In trying to show local commitment to the value of the stadium, he added that many different events are being planned for it, such as the barbecue fundraiser last summer. He anticipates that the City Parks & Recreation Department will help in the development of activities at the stadium, and the Portsmouth City Schools’ purchase of some fields around the stadium should bring more activities.
The skate park is one of the first things Dunne’s Sociology class looked at, he said. As someone new to Portsmouth, he listened to conversations about the opioid crisis here and recognized a need to be proactive in obtaining activities for youth.
“There need to be spaces for people to have fun,” Dunne said. He offered to do a lot of work to get a skate park but the first attempt stalled. Since then he has spoken with skaters, city council, Shawnee State personnel and others, and now a collaborative effort is working toward the achievement of the Portsmouth Skate Park Project.
Southern Ohio Medical Center made the first contribution for the project, a $10,000 check.
“The Tony Hawk Foundation loved the story behind the local efforts and the collaboration and gave $10,000 and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources added
$156,000,” Dunne said. It is hoped that additional funds will come from private fundraising and a block grant to complete the skate park scheduled to be built in what is currently called Weghorst Park at the corner of Madison and Fourth Streets in Portsmouth.
Dunne anticipates that the two new Acorn Funds created at the Scioto Foundation will help take care of maintenance and repairs for the two Portsmouth attractions.
“We need to be very aggressive in seeking outside funding resources,” Dunne said. We should have confidence to do that. We need our fair share.”
“We should think of the outdoor areas as part of who we are. Moments when people are part of an activity unite them – like a bunch of people watching an Ohio State game. It‘s the key that inspires the opportunities to enjoy these spaces and events and to want those fun activities. Kids here deserve the fun, too that other cities have,” Dunne closed.
Contributions to the Friends of Spartan Stadium Fund or the Friends of the Portsmouth Skate Park Fund from supporters, friends or the general public may be made at any time. Donations may be in the form of gifts of cash, securities or property.
Additional information about the Spartan Stadium Fund, the Portsmouth Skate Park Fund or other planned giving opportunities at the Scioto Foundation may be obtained by contacting Patty Tennant, Program Officer – Donor Services, or SF Executive Director Kim Cutlip at (740) 354-4612.
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