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Along n. 13th

Along North 13th Street

Albright To Rebuild Shirk Stadium
$1 Million Alumni Gift Helps Launch Project

Athletics Master Plan Sets the Stage for Wellness and Fitness for the Future

Architect's rendering of proposed field house.

Century-old Shirk Stadium is on the way to becoming a brand new multi-sport stadium by fall 2005. A $1 million gift to Albright College from John D. Scholl ’69, added to College funds, will launch the reconstruction project.

In addition, The Reading School District will join Albright College in a unique public/private joint venture in the stadium project. In November, the Reading School Board approved adding $2 million in district funds to Albright’s planned $4 million project, for a project total of $6 million.

The stadium reconstruction is the first initiative in the College’s new master plan for athletics over the next decade. Shirk Stadium, built around 1909 as Circus Maximus, will be demolished before spring and the new stadium complex will be
constructed by fall 2005. The new stadium’s footprint will be the same as the existing structure, from 13th Street on the east to Exeter Street on the south and 12th Street on the west. The new field will be large enough for football, field hockey, soccer
and lacrosse.

Albright’s plan for the stadium was to reduce the current 5,000-seat-stadium to a 3,000-seat multi-sport stadium, build a new field house/grandstands building, replace existing stands, add new locker rooms, and replace grass with artificial turf. The agreement with Reading School District retains 5,000 seats and adds lighting, a modern entrance and concessions, extensive landscaping, and an enlargement of the planned field house/grandstands building.

Scholl Gift in Response to Need
John Scholl, Albright class of 1969, of Mohnton, Pennsylvania, is a member of Albright’s Athletics Hall of Fame and previously served on the Albright Board of Trustees. Scholl is owner of Berkco Properties, a real estate investment company. The $1 million gift, added to College funds, allowed Albright to move the plan quickly forward with the reconstruction project. Scholl’s gift comes to Albright from the Scholl Fund of the Berks County Community Foundation.

“I am happy to make this donation to the stadium project because Albright needs a new facility. I am pleased with the overall direction of the College and its administration,” Scholl said. “Back in the late ’90s I saw a need when I compared Albright’s athletics and fitness and wellness facilities to other colleges’, and we tackled the Bollman Center. Albright and I share the same vision and I was willing to step up to the plate to keep the momentum going so we can complete our athletics master plan. The stadium was obviously the first thing to do. Renovating the stadium is good for Albright and for the Reading community.”

According to David C. Stinebeck, interim president of Albright, the College has critical needs for two building projects: reconstruction of Shirk Stadium and construction of a new Science Center.

“We have been planning stadium reconstruction for a long time, and with our new athletics master plan have been working to find a way to make it reality,” Stinebeck said. “John Scholl’s generous gift, added to College funds, was the final part of the
funding equation and is allowing us to finally begin construction. The stadium is a much smaller undertaking than the new Science Center, so we are able to get it underway immediately.”

Stinebeck said with Albright enrollments at their highest levels ever and with Scholl’s gift, the time was right to tackle the stadium project.

The century-old stadium “has become an eyesore that detracts from the rest of our beautiful campus,” Stinebeck said. “It does not make a very good impression on prospective students and visitors.”

Stinebeck stressed that fundraising will not be necessary for the stadium, but that funds will need to be raised to construct the planned Science Center.

Reading High/Albright Partner to Mutual Advantage
Reading High School has used Shirk Stadium for football for many years, and the College and the Reading School District have long discussed ways to partner in the project to mutual advantage. According to Reading School Board chairman, Kenneth J. Christian, Albright’s finalization of the project spurred the School Board to move forward quickly on becoming part of the project. Reading High School had explored several options for a stadium, including building their own stadium. Under terms of the agreement, Reading High School has use of the stadium for 99 years.

Stinebeck said, “I couldn’t be more pleased that the College and the Reading School District were able to move so quickly to make this work. I think we have an agreement that will serve both of us very well. The High School has used our stadium for so long and our different sports schedules have allowed it to work so well that this feels like a natural next step.”

About the unique joint venture Stinebeck said, “Public/private ventures are becoming more and more the subject of discussion in higher education, but there are not many of them. In fact, I believe ours can become a model program nationally.”

The Reading Rage also plays at Shirk Stadium, and intends to continue in 2006. After the demolition of the stadium slated for December, the stadium will be off line until fall 2005.

Circus Maximus was originally the home of the Tri-State Minor League Baseball League. The stadium was donated in 1923
to Schuylkill College, which then merged with Albright College in 1929 when Albright moved to its current location in Reading. The College named the facility Eugene Shirk Stadium in 1981 after the beloved Albright professor and former mayor of Reading.
The athletics master plan is by Derck & Edson Associates, LLP and The Ray Group Architects.

The 80,000-square-foot Science Center that will replace the 75-year-old Merner-Pfeiffer Hall of Science is in the planning stages. According to Stinebeck, the College must raise funds for the project, which has been approved by the Berks County
Capital Campaign Review Board for a 2006 campaign, and there is no date set for groundbreaking.

Albright Hall of Famer Gives $1 Million Gift for Stadium Reconstruction
John Scholl ’69 Helps Pave the Future for Student Life and Fitness

John Scholl ’69 is an Albright sports legend. A three-sport star athlete in basketball, track and baseball, and a member of Albright’s Athletics Hall of Fame, Scholl retains Albright basketball’s single-game scoring record of 54 points against Lycoming College in 1969.

Today, Scholl is responsible for another Albright slam dunk – a gift of $1 million to help reconstruct Shirk Stadium.

Albright athletics are close to Scholl’s heart. But it is more than nostalgia that spurred him to help make a new Shirk Stadium a reality. He is looking at the future for Albright students, and is determined to make sure the best facilities are on campus, not just for those who play sports but for fitness and wellness of all students.

This was not Scholl’s first effort on behalf of Albright athletics. In 1998, he spearheaded the renovation of the Bollman Center
gymnasium and basketball court. The “nicest gym in the Mid-Atlantic Conference” in his day, Scholl was determined to see it shine once again. With a challenge grant that matched any gifts dollar for dollar up to $40,000, he helped raise $425,000 for the project.

A former member of the Albright Board of Trustees, Scholl is owner of Berkco Properties, a real estate investment company. Scholl served on the Albright Commission on the Future’s Task Force on Athletics, Recreation and Wellness. Scholl’s gift to
the stadium comes to Albright from the Scholl Fund of the Berks County Community Foundation.

“I did it because it needed to be done,” Scholl said simply. “It is good for the whole community, not just Albright. It will bring people to the area and inspire pride.

I hope it’s an opportunity for alumni to step forward to support the school and these projects to make them a reality. I want alumni to participate, no matter how small a gift. When they come back, they will be pleased.”


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