NEWBURYPORT — Five months after pledging more than a half-million dollars to repair the Triton Regional School District stadium in Byfield, the Institution for Savings is funneling at least $500,000 into the next phase of the restoration of Newburyport's World War Memorial Stadium.
The bank announced yesterday that it will donate at least a half-million dollars toward replacing the stadium's natural turf field with a synthetic surface.
The gift will fund the second of a three-phase restoration effort that's been under way since portions of the stadium were condemned in 2002.
Restore our Stadium director Mary Anne Clancy, who has worked for the past five years to raise money to restore the stadium's historic grandstands and field, said the bank's gift effectively ensures a new field at the stadium will become a reality.
"What they really want to give is the gift of a finished field," said Clancy, who also works as vice president of communications for Institution for Savings.
The visitor and home stands of World War Memorial Stadium were constructed in 1938 by local work crews employed through Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration.
Clancy and her team were able to raise enough money from alumni, Community Preservation funds and other charitable donations to cover $450,000 in renovations to the home stands last summer.
While the Institution for Savings' $100,000 donation was among the early contributors to that first phase of the project, Clancy said the bank wanted to do more. The field, which has become known over the years as the "mud bowl," was where bank officials felt they could effect the greatest change.
Clancy said RESTORE requested a general contribution of $500,000, but Institution officials offered to cover the full cost of the new field.
Original estimates for re-sodding the field with synthetic material came in at around $900,000, but recent estimates received by neighboring Triton have brought the anticipated cost closer to $750,000. Clancy said the city will continue to attempt to reduce the cost to about $500,000, but if those efforts fail, she said the bank has promised to pay the difference.