Shovels Turns on New Athletics Field for Growing YSU

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A piece of Youngstown State University’s $100 million We See Tomorrow campaign came into focus Monday afternoon as officials broke ground for a $2.5 million athletic field on the north side of campus.

The project – named the Cafaro Family Field – was made possible through a $1.5 million gift from the Cafaro Foundation and will be used for student intramural and club sports, said YSU President Jim Tressel during a groundbreaking ceremony at the site.

“Every project we seem to undertake, you can be sure that the Cafaro family is taking part and parcel in everything that we do,” Tressel said.

Tressel pointed to campus developments such as the Cafaro House honors dorms, the Watson and Tressel Training Site and other contributions the family has made in the past. 

“YSU is so important to the overall environment to our entire Valley,” said Anthony Cafaro Sr., past president of the Cafaro Co. “We’re happy to be a part of that through contributing to certain projects.”

Cafaro paid special homage to his parents, William and Alyce Cafaro, who initially founded and funded the Cafaro Foundation. “It’s their generosity that made all this possible and we are merely implementing a part of that generosity this afternoon.”

Much of the field preparation at the site along Elm Street is well underway, Cafaro noted, who then turned to Tressel and joked, “You could’ve waited two months and we could’ve had the ribbon cutting here. We could’ve done both.”

Cafaro Family Field is scheduled for completion in August and will help serve growing enrollment across the university, especially for students living on campus, Tressel said. The new field will be used for a host of student recreational activities such as ultimate Frisbee, soccer, lacrosse and rugby. The field, on Elm Street across from Cafaro House, will consist of artificial turf, bleachers and a concession area.

Ursuline High School and Mooney High School will also have access to the field through for different sports activities through rental agreements.  

“This is a great day,” said John J. Cafaro, former vice president of the Cafaro Co. “This community was there from the beginning for my dad and we’re proud to have the opportunity to give back.”

YSU trustee and former Ohio state senator Capri Cafaro, John’s daughter, said these types of developments are important factors in helping recruitment at the university. “Things like women’s rugby and men’s lacrosse – these kind of club sports really attract a new type of student athlete to the Youngstown State University community.”

Overall enrollment increased this year for the third time in four years at YSU, while residence halls and apartments were filled to near capacity with nearly 2,300 students. 

“With so many more students on campus, we want to make sure that we provide an environment that meets the needs of our students, including recreation,” said Joy Pokabla Byers, YSU’s director of campus recreation.

YSU soccer player Luke Leonard said that this field is an important asset to the team, emphasizing that it’s a growing program. 

“That means more practice time, more time to recruit, more events,” he said. “It’s going to mean a whole lot for us and meet the needs of a growing program.”

Tressel said the new field is part of the university’s $100 million We See Tomorrow campaign, the largest fundraising effort in the university’s history. 

To date, the effort has raised about $90 million, Tressel reported.  “We have about $10 million to go. So, we’re getting close.”

Pictured: John J., Jan, Capri and Anthony Cafaro break ground for Cafaro Family Field.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.