Just in time for the 40th anniversary of Upper Arlington High School's Marv Moorehead Memorial Stadium, an Appreciation Night will be held on Sept. 11 for donors who contributed to the stadium's renovation of over the past six years.

Just in time for the 40th anniversary of Upper Arlington High School's Marv Moorehead Memorial Stadium, an Appreciation Night will be held on Sept. 11 for donors who contributed to the stadium's renovation of over the past six years.

The event will be held prior to the start of the Golden Bears' home football game against the Findlay High School Trojans.

"I think this is a great way to recognize all the people who have stepped forward to renovate that stadium. There's such a proud history and tradition of that stadium, and it was getting old," said UAHS principal Kip Greenhill. "These people have really put forth so much energy, effort and time to bring back the vitality of that stadium. They've revitalized the stadium."

Marv Moorehead Stadium is Upper Arlington's most-used facility, home to eight varsity teams plus junior varsity and freshmen teams in football, men's and women's soccer, field hockey, men's and women's lacrosse, and men and women's track.

The stadium also houses the Fitness Center, which is used for conditioning and rehabilitation for all high school athletes.

In 2002, the then-33-year-old stadium was showing signs of age and in critical need of a facelift.

"The stadium had run its course," said Chris Potts, the district's athletics director. "While it was still functional, it needed upgrading."

In 2002, six community members formed the Stadium Renovation Committee to raise money and coordinate the facility upgrades. Committee members Dianne Albrecht, John Bentine, Bill Finissi, Jack Kemme, Tom Morgan and Dick Vesper worked tirelessly to help raise $1.5-million over the past six years to pay for stadium upgrades.

"It started with the six of us motivating other people to contribute. It was a collective effort," Morgan said. "Other people helped out, but we were the engine that kept pushing the snowball down the hill to gain momentum."

The first effort was the installation of new turf on the field in the summer of 2002. Overuse and inadequate drainage often rendered the field unplayable for practices and games by the high school's seven field sports. Many of the varsity, junior varsity and freshmen teams practiced and played games at Northam Park and Jones Middle School.

"The stadium is used so much, when they added the turf, it really enhanced the field," Potts said.

Even after the turf was installed, the stadium still had many other problems.

The bathrooms were inadequate and in disrepair. The south entrance had broken gates, outhouse-like ticket booths offered no heat and poor lighting. There were gravel walkways that became slippery when it rained and there was no shelter under the stands to protect spectators during inclement weather. Shack-like concession stands had no water or heat and inadequate power for cooking.

The visitors' locker room was so inadequate, the Ohio High School Athletic Association did not allow post-season games, and some teams refused to play Upper Arlington's home games. There was no women's locker room.

"There was a locker room in the back of the fitness facility, but it wasn't really accessible for the girls during games," Potts said.

In addition to new women's and visitors' locker rooms and the turf, the extensive renovations include: a new concession complex, a covered concourse under the home stands, new restrooms, fencing, lighting, painting, signage and a renovated south entrance.

A new band pavilion that was unveiled last year was a separate fundraising effort by band and orchestra supporters.

Before the renovations, "we had a first-rate community and a third-rate stadium," said Morgan, "and now we've upgraded the facility that's in proportion to the excellence."

There is also a new Legacy Plaza to honor Marvin Moorehead (head Golden Bears football coach from 1955 to 1969), Upper Arlington's state championship teams and donors who contributed $5,000 and more. Construction is also under way beneath the spectator stands for a walk of fame honoring every school sport. The first panel, recognizing men's lacrosse, is scheduled to be installed in time for Appreciation Night.

The only major part of the stadium that has not been renovated is the north entrance.

"Naming rights are available for a generous donor who would like to help out with that effort," Morgan said.

The Appreciation Night will recognize the efforts of everyone who contributed money, time and energy to the renovations, Potts said.

"It's really a big thank-you to the community."

cbournea@thisweeknews.com