MONTGOMERY, Ohio — The Sycamore High School football team will play home games on campus during the upcoming season as plans for a new multi-use stadium move forward.
The school also announced plans for major renovations to its pool and gymnasium.
Sycamore Community Schools said it has raised over $2.5 million in private funding to match the $2.5 million raised for the on-campus stadium through an approved 2019 bond issue.
The new high school stadium is expected to open in fall 2022, Sycamore athletic director Mark Harden told WCPO Thursday morning. Until then, the football team will play on a stadium normally used for soccer and lacrosse.
The district's plans for the new space include a 4,200-seat facility with a press box, turf and community gathering space. The new stadium will be built on top of existing baseball and softball fields, so the district's plans also include a new baseball and softball complex in the future.
Harden said a team has been working on the football stadium design for over a year, but it's still awaiting approval from the city of Montgomery.
"Just to be able play here on campus is going to be incredible," Harden said. "And we don't have much parking over there at the junior high either, so just to have all this parking here and be able to have kids walk out of their locker room, walk right to the field — it will be nice."
The Sycamore High School football team played at Sycamore Stadium on the Sycamore Junior High School campus from 1966 until 2020.
The field location hosted varsity football games prior to 1966 as the current junior high school used to be the high school.
"The memories of Bud Acus Alumni Field are many," Sycamore coach Scott Dattilo said. "The best memories are in the locker room after big wins, singing the fight song together and seeing the excited faces of the players."
Harden told WCPO the plan is to have 2021 home football games on the high school campus due to construction on the junior high school campus.
While the new high school stadium is being built, the Aviators plan to expand the bleachers on their current on-campus stadium, which hosts lacrosse, soccer and the track and field teams.
"We're going to bring in some temporary bleachers in both end zones, and we're going to plan to play our home football games here on campus," Harden said. "It will be fun to play out there, watching the new stadium being built. And obviously the extra benefit is that we're doing a renovation to that (current high school) stadium out there."
The Sycamore football team is scheduled to open its season against visiting Loveland on Aug. 20.
Dattilo, who has been the Aviators coach for the past 15 seasons, said the team has taken a bus to every home game, so it will be nice to have a true home game at the high school.
"Looking at the facility upgrades has been so much fun," Dattilo said.
"Being able to plan field design, locker room layouts, team room and office models, etcetera is simply exciting. It is rewarding to think that I was a part of designing the face of Sycamore athletics for decades to come."
The upgrades to the athletic facilities are part of an larger renovation related to the bond issue for the high school.
“On April 17, 2019, we made a commitment to the community that the stadium project would not move forward until the $2.5 million in private funding was achieved. We have met that threshold,” Sycamore Community Schools superintendent Frank Forsthoefel said in a statement. “Our goal is to provide students and student-athletes with the amenities they need to maximize their potential while remaining fiscally responsible in the process. We will continue our fundraising efforts, when the timing is appropriate, to ensure that our facilities match the excellence of our students and community.”
The school district also announced a major swimming pool renovation after a $3 million donation from Mark and Saundra Seger.
The venue will be renamed the Seger Family Natatorium.
The venue has currently six lanes and seating for up to 100 spectators. The renovation will include an upgrade with an eight-lane pool with new seating for up to 432 spectators and a new entrance, according to Harden. It will also include a competition water polo course depth.
"It's beautiful," Harden said. "For as great of a swim community as we have that is nice to talk about how close we are to that going."
The pool opened in 1974 - the same year the high school opened, according to the district.
Harden told WCPO the high school plans for a gymnasium renovation including flipping the basketball floor in a different direction. It would include two sets of baseline seating.
That project includes plans for new locker rooms, too.
"It's thrilling," Harden said. "This community is great. It has a lot of people who love Sycamore and want to give back. It's just a special place."