The Press Newspaper
Only two area high schools, Genoa and Central Catholic, can say they have a luxury box at their football stadiums.
Genoa Booster Club President Bill Skilliter said Genoa's luxury box facility was "kind of an accident."
In mid-April of 2004, construction crews needed to move the former press box and storage faciltiy at the Genoa High School track. That fall, the Comets' football team was to move from playing at Bergman Field to the new high school stadium.
"The press box was originally to go to the softball field for Comet softball," Skilliter said. "At the last minute (softball coach) Tom Kontak and his assistants were to take the responsibility of moving it and any expenses. We gave them about six months to work on that project. They started construction of the field in March of 2004 and it became apparent they (softball coaches) didn't have the resources to move that building, which is 20x30 feet.
"They contacted us two weeks before construction was to start on the stadium and said we're going to pass on this. That left us scrambling because we had to move that building because it sat at the 50-yard line. The construction company couldn't do anything without moving that building."
Skilliter said Rob Marko and Ed Sanders and about 30 other volunteers helped move the building at Comet Stadium. Gaylord Sheldon provided the flatbed truck. Nissen Concrete donated $8,000 for the concrete slab on which the building would sit, and Papa Joe McLear drove the building to its new home at the end of the football field.
"We did it on the first try, in front of probably 150 spectators," Skilliter said. "Everybody thought we would tip the building over. Aftewards, Tom Skees, the booster president at the time, and myself climbed through the small windows to unleash the chains from the semis. We turned around and looked at the stadium and said, 'Oh, what a view.' At that point we said, 'This is going to have to be a luxury box.' "
The building houses the Booster Barn downstairs and the Comet Luxury Box upstairs.
"We are trying to make it like a loge, like in college or professional stadiums," Skilliter said. "We use it for anybody who wants it, a paying customer. Any fan or sponsor that has contacted us ahead of time can reserve the box for $150."
The luxury box seats 25 people and will contain a restroom next season.
Everything that was done to the luxury box upstairs was completed by using 100 percent donated funds, Skilliter said.
Heating and air conditioning was donated by Tom Wojiciechowski Heating and Air Conditioning. OCP Contractors, under project manager Jeff Feller, donated all of the carpet and drywall. Tom McGeorge of McGeorge Construction donated all of the labor to install the electrical system, drywall, plumbing and air conditioning. Tim Clark of Gem Industusties donated the lighting, and Dom De'Millo donated the ceramic tile and laid the tile for the bathroom and kitchen area.
Dave Grosjean of Genoa Custom Interiors donated and installed the carpet. Dave Marko donated the sound system, and Skilliter's family donated miscellaneous items.
"As a thank you to all of the donors, they got a free night in the luxury box," Skilliter said.
Wojiciechowski and his family and friends had the first rental for the Oak Harbor game this season.
Games were raffled off, against Lake and for the homecoming against Lakota, and Dave Marko got one and Roger and Laura Sheahan got the other raffle. The box was used during every game this season."
The luxury box was used during the Comets' game against Otsego, when the 2008 Genoa Athletic Hall of Fame inductees were presented. The inductees and their families used the box as a reception area.
During the recent opening home playoff game against Huron, the box was used as a reception area for board of education members and Huron school board members and athletic department officials.
There are still some modifications to be made. Skilliter said the boosters are still looking for cabinet and kitchenette appliances to add to the facility. Donors are asked to contact Skilliter at 419-836-4880.
Students in Genoa teacher Jean Holbrook's art class will paint the inside of the luxury box with Comet athletic designs in time for next season.
Reservations for the 2009 season, which includes four home games, are now being taken. Two games already have been reserved.
Skilliter said all the work it took to get the luxury box in working order "was worth it, without a doubt."
"Other than Central Catholic, I don't know of anyone in Northwest Ohio that has one. It's pretty awesome to be able to offer that to the community."
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