Thanks to a substantial fundraising effort, Olentangy Liberty High School has a plan to update its outdated stadium facilities.
The Olentangy Liberty Athletic Boosters is in the midst of a fundraising campaign that aims to bring in $1 million for a new multisport facility at the school, providing new spaces for 13 sports and an estimated 1,000 athletes each year.
Located on the site of the existing Patriots Stadium, the planned facility includes four new locker rooms, a full-service athletics-training room, team and coaching staff-meeting rooms, designated video areas, storage and public restrooms at the baseball and softball complex.
"This new multisport stadium facility will better serve Liberty student athletes and coaches for years to come," Athletics director Darin Meeker said. "This facility includes a state-of-the-art athletics-training room, updated locker rooms, designated video areas and meeting spaces for all of our teams, which will provide the much-needed additional space we need as a result of our growth over the last six or seven years."
Mark Johnson, facility project chairman for the Liberty Athletic Boosters, said in addition to the sports-focused additions, one of the biggest impacts of the project will be safety for all involved.
"The No. 1 priority of us was the safety of the students for the outdoor activities," he said. "When you go to some of these outdoor activities, you get situations where you have inclement weather. It's pretty far that they have to walk back to the high school if we do have a weather issue. So from a safety standpoint, it's good for kids to have a place to go to."
Meeker said the current facilities have stayed relatively similar to what was installed when the school opened 17 years ago.
The updates, he said, would bring the school's facilities up to par with other area schools.
"In today's day and age, working with student athletes and the demanding schedule all the teams have, it would just be outstanding to have everyone in one place located directly at the stadium," he said. "We do want to be able to have the best facilities and provide the best resources for our athletes that we possibly can. This certainly falls in line."
But it wouldn't be able to happen, he said, if it weren't for the fundraising efforts by the boosters.
"We would not be able to do a project such as this without the support of Olentangy Liberty Athletic Boosters," he said. "The support we have at Liberty from our parents and from local community members has been outstanding."
Johnson said the fundraising campaign already has netted about $400,000.
All of the donations, he said, will be "private dollars," with no contribution from the district itself.
He said the boosters group has partnered with Windfall, a private fundraising group that helps organize events and fundraising drives, and will hold a variety of fundraisers over the summer to help round out the $1 million figure.
"We're going after private money in the community," he said. "We're offering various sponsorships, anywhere from a brick campaign ... to naming rights and various packages and sponsorship levels to raise money."
A small amount of funding also will come from the Delaware County Finance Authority, which was set to present a grant for $50,000 during the Olentangy school board's meeting Thursday, June 13.
Johnson said he believes the project is the biggest in the history of the Olentangy Liberty Athletic Boosters but said its impact is so wide-reaching that the fundraiser is easily worthwhile.
"I think this is absolutely necessary for our student athletes," he said, "and it's not just going to benefit our student athletes. When you look at the teams who come to Olentangy Liberty, they need more space as well. We've got opposing football teams getting dressed in the auxiliary gym."
If all goes as planned, the new facilities could be open as early as spring 2020.
For more information, email the Olentangy Liberty Athletic Boosters at firstname.lastname@example.org.