Fundraising efforts for the football and track renovation on the University of Jamestown campus took a big step forward this week, according to Brett Moser, vice president for development and alumni relations for the university.
"As of this morning we have $9.2 million committed to the project," he told a Jimmie Boosters gathering Friday. "That includes the lead corporate donor committing $1 million from the First Community Credit Union."
Moser said the University hadn't researched past donations but felt it was the largest corporate donation ever made in the area.
The renovation project is a joint effort by the University of Jamestown and Jamestown Public Schools to create a joint-use facility for football and track events. When announced in July, the project had a preliminary cost estimate of $11 million. That cost has now grown to $11.5 million with construction slated to begin this fall.
Steve Schmitz, president of First Community Credit Union, said participating in the project was an "extremely easy decision to make."
"The only thing we had to decide was what level we wanted to participate," he said. "It is a good project for the city that we decided we had to do."
The University of Jamestown and Jamestown Public Schools announced fundraising efforts for the renovation on July 21. The project includes updates to the seating, improvements to the track and the replacement of the current grass football field with a turf field.
Jamestown Public Schools committed $2 million to the project which includes a turf practice field near the high school building. The school is also intending to invest up to $500,000 in a locker room facility at that practice field.
A lead donation of $3 million was announced in July from Jo-Ida Hansen. Hansen grew up in Jamestown and attended Jamestown High School and what is now the University of Jamestown. Her parents owned The Jamestown Sun at the time.
"I have suggested that, in their honor, this renovated outdoor facility bear the name of my parents, Charlotte and Gordon Hansen," Jo-Ida wrote in a letter read at the ceremony Friday. "... My folks were very engaged in the community of Jamestown through their volunteer work and charitable contributions and, needless to say, strong supporters of the University of Jamestown. They would be incredibly proud and pleased to know that Jamestown and UJ have come together to collaborate on the use of athletic facilities as well as on various educational programs."
Official groundbreaking for the renovation project is slated for the halftime of Saturday's football game between the University of Jamestown and Hastings College. The game is also homecoming for the Jimmies with kickoff set for 1 p.m.
"Construction starts after the game," said Dustin Jensen, dean of student engagement and student affairs at the university. "The heavy equipment moves in Monday."
Jensen said after the game, student athletes will remove the "Jimmie Knight" from the center of the field. The field will also be open for others who wish to take home a bit of the grass as a souvenir of the field.
"By September of next year we fully intend to play high school and University games on the new field," he said.