YOUNGSTOWN -- Renovation of Rayen High School Stadium is right on track for this fall's home football opener.
City schools athletic director Ed Matey said everything is on schedule for East High School's late August football opener, the sole city high school with a team. The Panthers are set to tangle with state powerhouse Ursuline at 2 p.m. Aug. 25.
''Everything's good,'' Matey said. ''According to our architect and general contractor, everything is right on schedule.''
Ron Vince, right, gets set last week to nail some lumber on the press box of the new Rayen Stadium in Youngstown. At left, Bruce Bosley helps out. The renovated stadium is expected to be open in time for Youngstown East High’s home football opener with Ursuline on Aug. 25.
At one time, the stadium played host to games from the City Series and both of the city's parochial schools as well as Youngstown State University.
But as the number of high schools shrunk from six to two -- just one of which offers football -- and more teams played at Youngstown State University, the stadium fell into disrepair and had only seen one game since 1993.
An effort was launched last October to renovate the stadium not just for football, but to offer facilities for other sports teams. Ground was broken in March for the $3 million project.
Last week a new press box was beginning to be erected and lights will be installed shortly as well, Matey said.
The field's grass surface will be kept at least through this year and then officials will mull over whether to replace it with synthetic turf so that other events can be held there, Matey said.
Plans for the future call for games to be played at night, but when schedules were made for the 2012 season it was unknown if the stadium would be ready for night games, so at least for this year, they were scheduled for the afternoon, Matey said.
Matey played in the stadium in high school and for YSU and also coached there several years when he would bring his Chaney squads to the North Side to play Rayen and other city schools. He said he is glad the tradition can be continued.
''It's fantastic,'' Matey said. ''It's like bringing back a history of Youngstown.''
East is the only high school in the district that fields sports teams, and the field would be considered home for the Panthers football team, as well as the district's middle school and junior high teams. East played all of its contests on the road last year because it did not have a home field.