OLEAN – Baseball and football will call Bradner Stadium home in one week’s time. About $1.5 million in renovations have been completed to bring the historic facility back to a playable condition.
But more work still must be done to ensure the stability of the stadium.
Fundraising has been high on the list of ways to make stadium renovations a reality over the past few years. Early attempts at donations were not as fruitful as members of the Olean Local Development Corp. would have liked. Many people were a bit leery of donating to a governmental agency, according to comments made in the past by Brian O’Connell, president of the agency.
A new idea has surfaced for the future of funds. Members of the development corporation heard a presentation from Karen Niemic Buchheit, executive director of the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, on what the philanthropic agency could do to help raise funds for projects, such as the $500,000 field house.
The foundation, a public nonprofit agency, handles about 80 different funds throughout the county, worth about $13.6 million. Those funds are used for many reasons, ranging from endowed and non-endowed funds for scholarships, memorials and charitable organization projects, Buchheit said.
For a nominal fee, the foundation would be able to establish a fund, invested in a diverse portfolio, to generate money to assist agencies. The foundation shoots for an average of seven percent return for a long term investment, but some funds in its charge have produced double-digit returns.
O’Connell said the fit between the foundation and the development corporation would be a good one with a lot of potential.
“As an organization trying to do what we are at the stadium, this would be a great fit,” he said. “We have limited funds, and with what we plan to do in the next phases, association with the community foundation could really add that air of legitimacy that we need to build a better fundraising effort.”
Discussions will continue, with no decision expected soon, he said.
Renovations have been made to install a baseball diamond and a permanent dugout in the stadium over the past year. The renovations to a tunnel entrance under East State Street were made to make the access safer and eliminate the need for crossing the busy thoroughfare.
More construction is expected to be done as funds are made available. Those include the renovation of the press box and the construction of a new fieldhouse, to give teams and officials a locker room in the stadium. Current locker room facilities are located across the street, at the William O. Smith Recreation Center.