Capital Drive to Begin to Replace Columbiana Stadium

COLUMBIANA, Ohio – With the renovation of Firestone Park complete, attention is turning to the football stadium.

An effort to raise $1.4 million to fund the first phase of the replacement and renovation of the stadium will begin next month.

A big piece of the funding is in place, as the Bradford A. and Pat Tingle Foundation of Columbiana has pledged a $300,000 matching grant.

The stadium is within Firestone Park, which underwent an extensive renovation over the past couple of years that was completed in September. The Tingle Foundation was a major donor to that project as well. Pat Tingle is the director of the fund, which she and her late husband started.

The stadium was built in the mid-1930s, at roughly the same time the park itself was created, and is in dire need of renovation, said Sean Zentner, president of the Columbiana Athletic Boosters, which is handling the capital drive.

The first phase of the project will entail removing the existing seating on the home side and installing new metal bleachers. The home side has a seating capacity of about 1,000. A new metal exterior, similar to the existing one, will be built.

Zentner said the stands will also be modified to minimize the height of the press box, and will include reserved seats with backs and will be ADA-accessible.

The smaller stands on the visitors’ side do not need to be replaced, as they were installed about 20 years ago.

The second and third phases of the project, which will cost an additional $1.8 million, will include a new field surface, band shell and concession stands and updated restrooms.

Zentner said once it’s updated, the stadium will be used not just for football, but also baseball, softball, soccer and band events.

Plans call for work to begin immediately after the end of the fall 2023 season. The stadium will be ready for the 2024 season, Zentner said.

The reconstructed facility will be christened Dick “Sonny” Fisher Stadium, in honor of the athlete considered by many to be the best to ever come out of Columbiana High School. After graduating, Fisher became a star running back for the Ohio State University Buckeyes in the early 1940s.

Tingle is a niece of the late Fisher. She and her husband grew up in Columbiana.

Zentner called Tingle “an incredible lady who has done so much for Columbiana and has asked for nothing in return.”

To raise money, businesses, organizations and residents of Columbiana will be targeted for donations, and grants will also be sought. The drive will begin in earnest after a March 28 event at Birdfish Brewing Co.

“We’ve already had a few people reach out to us and say they want to help,” Zentner said. Those who want to discuss a donation can reach Zentner by calling 330 518 7170.

Strollo Architects of Youngstown has been retained to draw up plans for the renovation work.

In 2020, the Columbiana Exempted School District took over ownership of the stadium from the city with a long-term lease agreement.

Pictured at top: An artist’s rendering of how the home side of Columbiana High School’s football stadium will look after a replacement and renovation project is complete.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.