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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)
WORCESTER - Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium is in line for more than $1 million worth of facility improvements and an overall sprucing up.
It will include the complete replacement of its 11-year-old artificial turf field with a new synthetic turf surface, as well as the resurfacing and re-striping of the running track.
In addition, plans call for purchasing a new scoreboard, a new public-announcement system and turf grooming equipment.
The improvements will be funded in part by a $500,000 donation from Commerce Bank, a division of Berkshire Bank. Commerce Bank donated $1 million to the Worcester Educational Development Foundation in 2007 for a renovation of Foley Stadium. The facility was subsequently renamed Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium.
"Commerce Bank has been an integral and important part of the Central Massachusetts business community and we are grateful for the unwavering and enthusiastic support of Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium," said Paul Kelly, commercial regional president at Berkshire Bank. "We are pleased to continue the work of David Massad and his efforts to deepen community support. We will continue his work at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium and other area nonprofits by investing in our neighborhoods to enrich the lives of our neighbors."
City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. is asking the City Council Tuesday night to accept and adopt the donation.
"For more than 65 years,
Commerce Bank was the preeminent Worcester partner and continues to be an example of corporate and community responsibility," Mr. Augustus said Friday. "It is heartening to know that Berkshire Bank is continuing that tradition. The investments by Commerce in Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium are enabling students of the Worcester public schools and the greater Worcester community the opportunity to play on first-class track and field, to hear their name and number called on a first-class sound system and see themselves on a first-class scoreboard."
Mayor Joseph M. Petty also thanked Berkshire Bank for its "generous contribution" to this community effort.
"Great companies live in great cities,' Mr. Petty said. "It's the mutual commitment to our shared goals of prosperity and economic development that makes partnerships like this with Berkshire Bank so valuable. This investment will pay dividends for thousands of students and community groups that use this field every year."
Upon acceptance of the donation, the manager said the city will match it with a contribution of $600,000.
To provide the matching funds, Mr. Augustus is recommending that $600,000 of a loan order adopted by the City Council in July 2017 be amended to include the Foley Stadium field improvements.
Under the terms of an amendment to Commerce Bank's original 2007 donation agreement, the $500,000 donation will be made to the city within 15 days of the date on which the City Council votes to accept it.
The amendment also stipulates the improvements to be made and the order in which they are to be done.
The donation will first be used to pay for the installation of a new artificial turf surface, with the remaining funds next to be applied to the resurfacing and re-striping of the running track.
Meanwhile, the city's contribution of up to $600,000 will be used first to pay for any funding shortfall that may arise for the artificial turf field replacement, and then fund the remaining five projects in the order that has been identified, including the procurement of a new scoreboard, a new public-announcement system and turf groom equipment, until such funding is exhausted, according to the agreement.
The parties have also agreed that the city will undertake the repainting of the stadium's exterior facade, spectator seating areas, football goal posts affixed in the Commerce Bank Field and flagpoles.
The goal is to have the first five improvements, including the installation of the new artificial turf surface, done in time for the 2018 high school football season. Meanwhile, the repainting of the stadium's facade should be done by June 1, 2019.
WDA Design Group, Inc. is designing the renovations.
The scope of the project is to remove and dispose of the existing synthetic turf field, laser grade the existing gravel base, install a new synthetic turf system, then resurface the existing running track and install the new scoreboard and sound system.
The original donation agreement with Commerce Bank & Trust ran through Dec. 31, 2017. The amendment extends the agreement another 10 years, through Dec. 31, 2027. During that time the facility will retain the name Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium, according to the agreement.
The Chandler Street athletic facility, which dates to 1927, is the primary athletic facility for the Worcester public schools. The main field hosts football, track and field, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse contests, as well as other outdoor recreational activities, such as the annual Worcester World Cup soccer tournament.
The complex also includes a baseball field and grass rectangular fields that are also used for soccer and field hockey.
The existing stadium, which is owned and operated by the city, seats about 4,800 people. Built in 1965 and renovated in 2007, it was named after Gen. Thomas F. Foley, a World War I veteran and longtime city police chief.
Since 1965, more than 50,000 high school athletes have competed in sporting events at the facility.
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