Growing with Generosity: Center Grove High School Stadium Seating Now Better Than Even
Writer / Johnette Cruz • Photographer / Chris Williams
Friday night football is getting a facelift this fall at Center Grove High School! The football stadium’s 40-year-old bleachers are being replaced for the upcoming school year. According to Center Grove Superintendent Dr. Rich Arkanoff, the bleachers were in need of some serious work. They are inspected after every football season, so that if repairs are needed, they can be done before track season begins.
“The engineering report came back citing some serious structural and safety concerns,” explained Arkanoff. “We brought this information to our board in February, and they agreed with our recommendation to close the bleachers immediately.” When that happened, Arkanoff informed Mr. Skillman and IU Health of the plans to close the bleachers, since they both have naming rights on the field and stadium.
At that point, Mr. Skillman indicated Ray Skillman Automotive would be interested in a new agreement to pay for the cost of new bleachers. “We are so appreciative of his tremendous generosity,” says Arkanoff. “This donation allows us to replace what we had with a new, safe structure.”
The new home side bleachers will feature a new press box, personally paid for by Ray and Ann Skillman. It will accommodate both home/visitor coaches, staff and media, along with two suites. One suite will be reserved for the Skillman family. The other will be used at the discretion of the high school administration.
These new bleachers will increase capacity, which means more people at games, more community involvement and an electric atmosphere. The home bleachers will increase by more than 1,000 seats, while the visitor side will have more than 800 additional seats. The north stands are still in place, holding around 900, bringing the stadium’s total capacity to just under 6,000.
Obviously, there’s innate excitement over something new and improved, but we’ve only really scratched the surface on how this impacts others in and around Center Grove. “Center Grove is more than just a school district in White River Township,” reveals Arkanoff.
“We are the unifying force, the heart of this community. It is wonderful to see so many people come out – from young children to senior citizens – on Friday nights for high school football games. We want as many people as we can to come and experience what Center Grove has to offer. Our arts and athletics events are a great way to do that, even if you don’t have students in our schools.”
There is also a unifying sentiment when it comes to Ray Skillman’s involvement and generosity. Arkanoff was clear in wanting to acknowledge and express a sincere thank you from himself and the school board to Mr. Skillman, his wife Ann and Ray Skillman Automotive for their tremendous amount of giving.
“Mr. Skillman has been supportive of our school district through our athletics and arts programs for many years in many ways, both large and small. Our students are very lucky to have a community member with such a giving heart.”