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October 07, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The capital campaign to raise $2.3 million to build a stadium at North Hagerstown High School officially was kicked off Wednesday night at a dinner ceremony at which organizers distributed lists of names of potential donors.

North High has used South Hagerstown High School's stadium for 47 years because it does not have a stadium of its own.

Two North High athletes spoke at the North High Boosters Club Inc. ceremony, held at Tony's New York Pizza and Restaurant. About 100 people attended.

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Patrick Dattilio, a junior at North High, said it was appropriate to hear from the students because "it is to us whom this stadium means the most."

"A new track and stadium is a long overdue necessity," he said.

The students, like other speakers Wednesday, talked about having to drive to South High for North's 71 sports events each year.

"Without a school stadium we can't have a home-team advantage," said Chanda Grubbs, a senior at North High.

Dattilio said he is ready for the tables to turn and for South High teams to have to make the drive to attend games at North High.

"There is nothing I would like more than for South to drive over to our side of town," Dattilio said.

The Boosters Club plans to name the stadium in honor of Mike Callas, a Hagerstown businessman and philanthropist who died May 31 at age 83, just days after he was named an honorary co-chairman of the stadium capital campaign.

At each table at the ceremony was a brochure titled "Techniques for Successful Gift Solicitation," along with miniature plastic footballs and information on potential donors.

The tables also had T-shirts that had a picture of a stadium and the words: "If we build it they can play."

John Williamson, chairman of the Boosters Club's Stadium Executive Committee, and other speakers talked about techniques for getting donations.

While Wednesday was the kickoff of the North High Boosters Club's public campaign, some have been working privately to collect pledges for the project.

Former North High basketball coach Jim Brown, the fund-raising campaign's honorary chairman, said almost $700,000 in pledges has been raised so far for the planned 3,500-seat stadium.

"That is with just a few people. Now we have a herd going out," Brown said.

The Boosters Club is eyeing a fall 2005 groundbreaking for the project, with a fall 2006 opening game there.

Williamson has said the Boosters Club is raising the money because it realizes the Washington County Board of Education does not have the funds to pay for construction of a stadium

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan told the crowd Wednesday she is excited to see people organizing to raise the money for the stadium.

On May 9, Williamson announced the committee's plan to sell naming rights for the stadium and its components as a way to raise private funds for the project.

After Callas died, his friends, relatives and colleagues pledged to try to raise $1 million in Callas' name, Williamson said.

At the committee's request, the school board voted on July 20 to name the proposed facility after Callas.

An Internet site for the project has been established at www.mikecallasstadium.com.

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