New Canaan Athletic Foundation’s fundraising goal in reach, but needs town’s help
Published 4:46 pm, Thursday, February 16, 2017
NEW CANAAN — The New Canaan Athletic Foundation is looking for a financial bump from the town to assure completion of the high school’s athletic facilities this summer.
The foundation hopes to reach its fundraising goal of $2.4 million by summer to complete Phase Two of its work, according to Chairman Michael Benevento, but needs an additional show of support from the town to do so.
Benevento went before the Board of Finance on Monday to present the project he hopes will be undertaken this summer — the total estimated cost of which is around $5 million, $2.6 million of which the town has budgeted for— and request the town bond an additional $500,000 to ensure the foundation’s fundraising goal is met, a crucial request because of the small window in which the construction can take place.
“I think we can get to the entire $2.4 million in privately raised funds. What I’m requesting, what we’re asking for is, if we fall short, that we could ask for a backstop up to $500,000 so that we don’t miss this critical window this summer to get the projects done together,” Benevento said.
The project would include a re-turfing of Water Tower field, a redo of the track, creation of a second Water Tower turf field, more spectator seating and a storage facility, and lighting for the track. The cost of improvements is estimated at $5 million.
According to Benevento, the improved facilities would be fit to host camps and tournaments in the summer months that could be revenue drivers, ideally creating a situation in which the foundation is self-sustaining.
“These are things that we as a foundation envision being revenue generation sources that would go back into the athletic foundation to build an endowment,” Benevento said.
Among the reasons for haste, Benevento said, are incremental savings of roughly $250,000 if the projects are completed together. Also, completing the work in one shot means less impact on the high school.
Some speculated, too, that the show of good faith on the part of the town would encourage potential donors interested in the project, but wary of feeding money into a project that might be a nonstarter.
“A lot of people are sitting on their hands, which is driving me nuts. And they want to make sure that this is actually going to happen,” said Robert Spangler, board of finance vice chairman and Athletic Foundation board member. “It just needs this to get to this last spot.
Though Benevento after the meeting said the foundation could not disclose the amount it had raised at this point, he said a considerable amount of the foundation’s goal had been pledged.