City High launches $1 million overhaul to athletic facilities


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Officials at City High School are urging alumni and local businesses to “stand up” for improved athletics facilities.

Their goal: $1 million.

The high school’s administration launched a campaign titled “Stand Up for City High” — an initiative to fund improvements to the school’s aging athletics complex — a couple months ago, and donations are picking up. They’ve raised about $500,000 so far.

“It will bring more people to the events who don’t really come to City High events,” said City High senior Mahogany White, a track and field athlete.

The project includes improvements to the press box and the construction of a new alumni facility, but members of the campaign’s leadership team said one of the biggest improvements would be to the facility’s restrooms, which have changed very little since Bates Field was established in 1948.

The facility’s current restrooms only contain two stalls, forcing officials to rent portable toilets when hosting large events at the school. The original trough-style urinal still resides in the men’s restroom.

“It’s an embarrassment to myself, as a graduate and a parent of a graduate,” said John Balmer, City High class of 1967 and a member of the campaign’s leadership team.

Larry Brown, the school’s former athletics director, said the facility’s lighting and restrooms have long been in need of improvement and have caused problems for spectators of athletic events.

“We just can’t accommodate the need that’s there when you have a large crowd for a large event,” he said.

Members of the project’s leadership team, including City High Principal John Bacon, have said the project will lead to improvements for a variety of the school’s programs, including football, track and field, and the marching band.

But students at City High wonder if the marching band will benefit at all from the improvements to the complex.

“Our school pumps a lot of money into the sports program and leaves the marching band ignored,” said City High junior DJ Martin.

Myron McReynolds, the school’s marching band director, said the campaign would improve the quality of lighting on the football field, which he said is “always a positive addition.” He said the improvements would facilitate the band’s events, especially the Little Hawk Invitational — an October marching band competition that includes 16 to 20 bands and 750 to 1,000 spectators.

“I do see a benefit to what we do — in relation to the overall program,” McReynolds said.

Still, parents of athletes have donated more than parents of students in marching band.

“Hopefully, [the marching band] would feel this is as much for them as anybody else,” Balmer said.

Balmer and other members of the campaign’s leadership team have solicited funds from alumni groups and small businesses in the area, and have raised about half of their $1 million goal. Balmer said that while the fundraising goal is lofty, it is also achievable.

“I think the reception is good. It is a challenge right now with the economy being what it is,” he said. “It’s still a challenge, but overall I think the response has been very positive.”

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