Most high school sports stadiums don’t have a big corporation paying out some big bucks in order to have its name on it. But most towns also don’t house a vacation home of New Balance Shoe Co. owner Jim Davis.
Gloucester, Mass., does. For that reason, the 75-year-old high school’s crumbling stadium will soon bear the New Balance name. The company’s charitable foundation will give $500,000 to the school to fix up the stadium in annual chunks of $50,000 for the next decade, according to the Gloucester Times.
As a result, the stadium will get a new name that incorporates New Balance: The New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium.
According to the Boston Globe, Newell currently has “sagging stands, a condemned bathroom, and an unsafe track.”
"Now, we're on the other side of the hill," said Dick Wilson, the visionary of the project and its chief fund-raiser, the Times reports. "This is no longer a 'might happen,' this will happen."
The Globe notes that this makes Massachusetts the fourth state to have a high school stadium with a corporate sponsor. The other three are Texas, Indiana, and Washington.
Davis is also part of a limited liability corporation that purchased land in Gloucester this past summer “in anticipation of seeking to redevelop the largely unused space behind Pavilion Beach into a hotel complex,” the Times notes.
More details in the press release, below —
New Balance pledges $500,000 for naming rights at Gloucester High School stadium
Bid gives huge boost to reconstruction of historic Newell Stadium
GLOUCESTER, Mass. – Sept. 30, 2011 – New Balance has pledged $500,000 for naming rights to Gloucester High School’s historic Newell Stadium, which was dedicated in 1936 and has been used by generations of local athletes but deteriorated badly in recent years. New Balance’s sealed offer was opened at Gloucester City Hall on Friday, giving a huge boost to the fundraising effort to rebuild the stadium.
“This is a touchdown for every community member who’ll benefit from the rebuilt Newell Stadium – every high school athlete who’ll play on the new field, every senior citizen who’ll walk the new track, every family that’ll attend a public concert,” said Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk. “We’re grateful for New Balance’s support and thrilled that the renewal of Newell Stadium is moving ahead.”
Newell Stadium’s poor condition, including wide pits in the track and warped, swaying stands, has severely limited its use. The bathroom building was condemned and the track team has not held a home meet in six years because the track is unsafe for runners. Although it is next to Gloucester High School, none of the school’s physical education classes use the field. An analysis by the City of Gloucester estimated that 1,000 more children per year will be able to use the field when it is rebuilt.
“At a time when obesity among kids is a growing problem, we’re building a stadium that encourages kids to participate in sports and exercise,” said Jonathan Pope, president of the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association, which is raising money for the new stadium. “That’s exactly the message we should be sending to our children.”
The new field will be known as “New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium” and the New Balance name will be prominently featured on the playing field. The $500,000 pledge will be paid over 10 years, according to New Balance’s sponsorship agreement with the City of Gloucester.
“New Balance is proud to join the City of Gloucester in supporting the reconstruction of Newell Stadium to provide the City’s school children and area residents with a safe place to engage in athletic activities,” said Matt LeBretton, director of public affairs for New Balance. “We applaud Mayor Kirk, the City Council, the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association and the efforts of the many Gloucester community members who have made this opportunity a reality. Both New Balance and Gloucester share a long tradition of excellence and understand what can be achieved by working together on a shared vision.”
The City has committed to spending $1.5 million on the new stadium, estimated to cost $3.5 million, and over 130 other corporate and individual donors have pledged donations. For information or to donate, visit www.GloucesterAthletics.org.