GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Buddy LaRosa Field is now a reality at Lancer Stadium.
La Salle High School formally hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning to dedicate the new synthetic turf field at its football stadium. The new turf was installed by The Motz Group.
The Bengals and the NFL Foundation teamed up to contribute $150,000 to the school’s athletic department, topping off a fundraising effort that raised $325,000.
Bengals Executive Vice President Katie Blackburn was in attendance Thursday morning to present the check.
“The Bengals are extremely pleased to play a role in helping to make this project come to fruition,” said Blackburn. “Having a quality playing surface is important, and we hope the La Salle community enjoys the new field for many years to come.”
La Salle named the field in recognition of the founder of LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria. La Salle High School has long received strong support from the LaRosa's family.
"He is an icon and a true living legend," said Dan Flynn, Director of Major Gifts at La Salle and the school's former athletic director. "La Salle High School is proud to name this field after Mr. Buddy LaRosa.
Buddy's son Michael, the chief executive officer of LaRosa’s, is a 1974 La Salle graduate. Younger son Mark, the chief culinary officer, is a 1977 graduate.
Buddy, a Roger Bacon graduate, spoke warmly about his support of La Salle over the past decades. He proudly walked the field which bore its name and joined in on a photo with the football team at the 50-yard line. He said his sons really enjoyed their experience at La Salle.
"I'm really honored and humbled today for this honor," LaRosa said.
The new field officially opens Monday (June 12) and allows for additional football games and practices as well as other sporting events, physical education classes and for the band.
"I think (today) shows the passion and the commitment that so many of our supporters have," La Salle Principal Aaron Marshall said. "We're very blessed. So many people come together and support what we're doing in the classroom, on the field and on the courts. They share in all of our success. People bleed Lancer Red."
Lancer Stadium, which opened in 1990, includes a track and field inside. The new turf replaces the current surface which was installed 11 years ago.
Summer camp attendees for soccer, lacrosse and football will be the first to use the new field when Lancer Stadium opens next week.
The grant is part of a program in which the Bengals and the NFL have distributed $1.65 million to area schools for new fields.
“We can’t thank the Bengals enough for their generosity and continued support of local amateur athletics,” said La Salle Athletic Director Keith Pantling. “Their major gift solidified this project. An upgrade like this impacts not only our student-athletes at La Salle, but so many other individuals and organizations in the community that use the field year-round.”’
Other schools include Clinton-Massie High School, Covington Catholic High School, Deer Park Jr./Sr. High School, Lockland High School, Oak Hills High School, Taylor High School, Withrow University High School and Midway Elementary School.
In addition to the Bengals, other benefactors include Rumpke, LaRosa's and Nieman Plumbing.
La Salle, the reigning three-time Division II state champions, opens the season against Colerain Aug. 25 in the 20th annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown at Nippert Stadium.
Kickoff for that highly anticipated game is 8:30 p.m. It is a one-year agreement between the schools after the teams played in 2015 and 2016.
The true home opener for La Salle occurs Sept. 8, when the Lancers host West Clermont High School (the new school formed by the Amelia and Glen Este merger).
As Thursday's ceremony concluded, Buddy LaRosa gave a directive to the Lancers football team.
"Dig down deep and go for that fourth (state title)," Buddy LaRosa said. "Go Lancers."