Phase II of Carrollwood Day School’s Patriot Pride campaign includes a multipurpose sports complex on the private school’s campus at 1515 W. Bearss Ave., in Tampa.
It includes space for football, baseball and soccer games, and will allow the school’s athletic teams to finally play home games at home.
It will also cost a couple million dollars.
The school has raised about 25 percent of that cost.
And while $500,000 is a significant number, it still leaves a lot of ground to cover.
Thanks to a $1 million matching pledge by Todd and Kari Wagner — who have children attending the school — the home fields are very close to becoming a reality.
“It’s a game-changer for Carrollwood Day School,” said Head of School Ryan Kelly. “It’s the largest donation that we have ever received. And it just is going to allow us to do something that I’ve dreamt of doing, and that is having our own sports complex.”
Kelly made the announcement about the donation at the football team’s home game on Aug. 28 against Admiral Farragut.
Like other sports at Carrollwood Day School, the home football games aren’t actually played at home. They play football at Skyway in Tampa, baseball at Citrus Park and soccer on a leased parcel of land.
That’s all going to change by next season, according to Kelly. That $500,000 now puts Carrollwood Day School halfway to accessing the $1 million match and funding the complex.
When it’s finished, the complex will include turf fields that will be used for outdoor sports, dugouts and batting cages for baseball, a press box, bleachers that will seat 600 to 1,000 fans and a concession area.
High school football, baseball and soccer are the primary beneficiaries, but the complex also will be used by the middle-schoolers, physical education activities and possibly lacrosse, at some point.
That accessibility will be a dramatic change from what the school deals with today, and Kelly is well aware of the challenges and hard work that goes into making it work.
“The athletic director, Baker Mabry, does an outstanding job. But it is a nightmare,” Kelly said, describing the scheduling and logistics of constantly going off-site for games and practices.
“We cannot wait until we don’t have to do that any longer,” Kelly added.
They won’t have to wait long. With current cash on hand and the pledge secured, Kelly expects to see the project started in December and to be completed as early as late spring of 2016.
If that timetable holds, next year’s home games will be at the new complex.
Todd Wagner, along with fellow entrepreneur Mark Cuban, founded Broadcast.com, a pioneer Internet radio company that was purchased by Yahoo! in 1999. He and Cuban also co-own the media group 2929 Entertainment.
Kelly said he laid out his vision for the school to the Wagners, and being down-to-earth people, they were receptive and eager to help. For him, the hard part was making the public announcement once the deal was done.
“To be honest, I was probably more nervous about that than meeting with the Wagners,” Kelly explained. “Just because I knew it was such a big announcement for the school, and I really wanted to make sure people were excited.”
When he took the field at halftime with a row of cheerleaders behind him, his words were met with plenty of excitement and loud applause from fans. And, in perhaps another good sign, Kelly’s Patriots won the game, 22-18. They’re currently 3-0 on the season.
The Phase II field project will get underway while Phase I is still under construction. The first project, a $3.5 gymnasium and facility, is currently on schedule and should be completed by early March of next year. It will include space for the athletic director, a weight room, three volleyball courts, two basketball courts and seating for 500 fans.
There’s also the business of raising the final $500,000 for Phase II, and Kelly is very confident about the school’s prospects in that area.
Kelly said the Wagners’ gift will encourage other families to be involved, and he expects to see increased interest in others being part of the project.
For now, entering his eighth year at Carrollwood Day School and third in the role of head of school, Kelly can finally look forward to a true home-field advantage for his teams next year.
“It’s outstanding. It’s even hard to put into words how exciting it is,” he said.
Published September 23, 2015