ELYRIA — The district welcomed another partner into the “Pioneer family” after granting naming rights to its new field at Ely Stadium to Mercy Health Lorain at Wednesday’s school board meeting.
Part of what is intended to be a long-term partnership between Elyria Schools and health care provider, the new field will be known as Mercy Health Field at Ely Stadium. The name is effective for the next 10 years, at the terms of $35,000 per year, or $350,000 for the life of the agreement.
Superintendent Thomas Jama calls the relationship between the two a “win-win.”
“It is my privilege tonight to recognize and thank Mercy Health Medical Center for participating and becoming a member of the Pioneer family,” he said. “We cherish our relationships very strongly with our community as well as parents and students. … I personally want to thank you for being professional, for being up front and always answering the questions necessary to working with us to work out this multi-year deal. It’s going to be awesome now to walk up to the new sports complex and have it say Mercy (Health) field.”
Edwin Oley, senior vice president and CEO of Mercy Health, said the partnership would look to improve students’ health and bring health care into the classroom, not just on the field.
“We don’t really look at it as a sponsorship on the Mercy side … we look at it as a relationship with a phenomenal school district,” Oley said. “And between us, we hope to be able to integrate, in a novel way I think, health care with education. Ultimately we’d (look) to see the healthier students are, the better they’re going to perform in the classroom; so we believe we’ve got some ideas and some thoughts that we’ve been talking about that’s going to help us get there.”
Jama agreed, saying the partnership hopes to go beyond just naming rights.
“I can say this after speaking to the CEO, (he) and I are basically on the same wavelength with what we’re going to move in the direction with this sponsorship and it’s going to be much more than even a field at Ely Stadium,” Jama said. “We’re going to work on other areas that are going to include special services within our schools and within our community.”
The board also unanimously passed a resolution to establish guidelines for future partnerships like this, which would require a financial commitment for naming rights to any of the stadium complex.
The deal was facilitated in part by Sponsor Burst, a sports marketing company.
In celebration of the contract, members of the Mercy Health Lorain team and the school board were presented with a photograph from the first football game at Ely Stadium this year.
In other news
The board heard an update on the district’s efforts to grow participation in middle school sports, which was down after the seventh- and eighth-grade teams were combined. The schools have split seventh- and eighth-grade teams and are trying to regain lost interest.
“We are starting to somewhat see a rebound because we put that seventh-grade sport element back in, but there’s more things that can be done,” Athletic Director Heather Beck said.
When the seventh- and eighth-grade teams were combined for basketball, volleyball and football at each middle school because of budget concerns at the end of the 2012-13 school year, athletes’ confidence suffered, Beck said.
“This year’s seniors are the first students that played on that combined team,” she said. “A freshman this year, are one of the first groups where we’ve brought back the individual teams. The sophomore class right now, you do see a little bit of a lapse of their abilities because of having that combined team, less playing time, less instructional time, things like that.”
To help boost school spirit and competition-level numbers, the district is combining several grade-level teams across its three middle schools: Westwood, Eastern Heights and Northwood. Athletic Coordinator Sean Arno said the feedback for the combined teams has been positive so far, with wins and participation up.
“Football is a dying sport,” Arno said. “It is a dying sport in middle schools, to give you an example of how dying it is, Strongsville’s just 22 seventh-graders, they have about 35 eighth-graders. That is an entire building, one building, for Strongsville. … So in order to get our kids to come out and play, combining the teams (between schools) is important on several levels. One of those levels is they’re going to get the same fundamentals and are going to be together from the seventh grade on. … So it’s the same principle as teaching math. If you’re going to teach Algebra I, you’re going to teach it across the board.”
- Why isn't it UH Elyria Field at Ely Stadium?
- Avon Lake spoils the party, takes control early to beat Elyria
- Celebration marks the opening of new Ely Stadium (VIDEOS)
- Ely Stadium to host its first game tonight (PHOTOS/VIDEOS)
- High school football 2018: Elyria has new home and new hope
- Work continues on Ely Stadium project; bricks available as souvenirs (VIDEO)
- Out with the old and in with the new as Ely Stadium construction continues (VIDEO)