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Efforts under way to fix tank stadium

The kickoff for fixing up Tank Stadium is now under way.

On Friday, the Liebert Corp. donated $10,000 to Tank Memorial Stadium Fund, Inc., a non-profit local organization with a goal of raising enough funds to update the 1926 stadium.

The stadium was once the home for the professional football team, the Ironton Tanks, which had an overall record of 88-17-15 in its 12 seasons from 1919 to 1930. Now it is home to the Ironton Fighting Tigers.

The stadium is one of the last of the old style covered stadiums to be used by a high school football team and the groups wants to preserve and upgrade the stands and field.

Mark Vass, the athletic director for Ironton High School, said the group was happy with the donation because their ambitious plans include repair to the roof and upgrades to the bleachers, and the concession stands. The dream part of the project is to make the playing field turf.

“The ultimate goal is preservation,” Vass said.

The stadium is on the state’s historic registry but not the national registry. But the state won’t help fund the project leaving it up to area residents to come up with the money.

Vass said he doesn’t know how much the project will cost.

“There is no official estimate,” Vass said. “It all depends on what we do.”

For example, putting turf on the field will cost at least $1 million. And what they can do depends on how much money the organization raises.

“It is going to be a very expensive project, it’s going to be millions of dollars if we do what we would like to do,” Vass said, adding it will the preservation will be done in phases as money is raised.

With the Liebert donation, Tank Memorial Stadium Fund, Inc. has about $20,000.

The group was formed three years ago, but they held off on fundraising efforts for a while.

“We held off because of the school,” Mike Carey, president of Tank Memorial Stadium Fund, Inc., said. “Now that has passed, we are going to go hot and heavy. And today is a heck of a start.”

Jerry Rowe, Liebert’s plant manager, said there were many reasons that the company donated to the stadium fund. It is a state-approved non-profit organization and because football is an important thing in Ironton and the area.

“We like to help out the schools and the students in the local area as much as possible,” Rowe said. “And football is a major sport in town and we want to support local athletics as much as possible.”

And Tank Stadium is part of Ironton’s history.

“We hope this will be the start of other companies donating,” Rowe said. “I know it is a small token for such a large project but we are hoping to kick off the donation process.”