Central Catholic alumnus Cleves Delp is giving new life to the movie catchphrase, "If you build it, they will come."
Taking the famous line from the 1989 hit movie Field of Dreams, Mr. Delp will provide the funding for construction of a baseball facility for his alma mater to be built on farmland next to the Monsignor Schmit CYO athletic complex in South Toledo.
The $2.5 million project, which is to be announced at news conference at Central Catholic today, is to have amenities to rival those of professional baseball facilities including artificial turf, lights, scoreboard, and locker rooms.
"Next to Fifth Third Field, it's going to be the best baseball site in northwest Ohio," said Jeff Mielcarek, longtime Central baseball coach.
The largest portion of the cost will go toward the artificial turf and its underlying drainage system, which will be about $600,000. The lights will cost about $240,000.
Mr. Delp said the artificial turf and lights were deemed necessary to maximize use and generate more rental revenue.
The rest of the cost will be for locker rooms, a study room for students complete with Internet capability, dugouts, a clubhouse, coaches' offices, an umpires' locker room, four hitting cages, a press box, restrooms, a concessions stand, a 12-person suite, a scoreboard, two picnic terraces, a sound system, and permanent bleacher seating for 440 spectators.
Mr. Delp said none of the cost will be incurred by Central Catholic.
The $2.5 million baseball complex, which will be used by Central Catholic, will feature artificial turf, lights, and locker rooms.
Groundbreaking for the project is scheduled for this fall.
Construction is expected to be complete in time for the 2012 spring baseball season.
"During the spring, there would be no reason that it wouldn't also be a sectional, district, or even regional site for Ohio's state tournament," Mr. Mielcarek said. "The same applies for summer tournaments, and summer collegiate teams, and fall baseball."
Mr. Delp is chairman and chief executive officer of the Delp Co., a local wealth management and employee benefits firm.
But this baseball facility project will operate independently under a new business he has established, DelBall LLC.
"It is a leap of faith," Mr. Delp said. "It is either a gift of money and resources, or it's a gift of courage and creativity. Or, it's a combination of both."
In exchange for leasing the land along Holland-Sylvania Road between Angola Road and Hill Avenue, DelBall has agreed to build the facility and allow the Central Catholic athletic program to use it. The land is owned by the Toledo Catholic Diocese.
Mr. Delp said his primary long-term goal is to attract students to Central Catholic, in the same way that he believes the school's 2,500-seat Sullivan Center gymnasium and 6,500-seat Gallagher Athletic Complex football and track facility have done.
"I think the world of Central Catholic," said Mr. Delp, who played baseball and football for the Irish. "I have three kids here, and two others who will attend Central in the future.
"It is the finest high school education you can get in northwest Ohio, bar none. If you look at the amounts of scholarships our kids get from Central Catholic, it's into the tens of millions."
The off-campus location may cause some inconvenience for Central student-athletes, who will have to travel there by bus on school days. But Mr. Delp said there is a positive side to building the baseball complex next to the CYO grounds.
The number of children and parents who come to youth sporting events at the CYO field will see the baseball fields, and he said the complex will help recruit them.
"We are not turning our backs on this campus location. But a baseball field takes space, and the diocese happened to have some right next to the CYO fields." Mr. Delp said.
The Rev. Dennis Hartigan, Central Catholic's president, confirmed the Toledo diocese has agreed to a long-term $1-a-year land-lease arrangement, and his school will not pay any of the cost of constructing, operating, or maintaining the facility.
The Fighting Irish baseball program will simply be a tenant of the facility, a cost it will offset through its own yearly fund-raising efforts.
The Central baseball teams are not the only intended tenants. Use of the facility has been offered in a tenant arrangement to Lourdes College, which will begin a baseball program in 2012, although Lourdes has made no commitment to that offer.
Central boys and girls soccer teams will use the facility for fall practices, and the plans call for summer baseball league play and tournament rentals as well as being a site for Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament competition.
The Irish softball teams also could practice there.
"I'm trying to prove that you can do this - build charitable facilities, and literally not have it take your own capital to get the job done. We'll see if that strategy works," Mr. Delp said.
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