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Callas Stadium committee hears track pitch

February 24, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

When it comes to running, Mike Spinnler has a one track mind.

And the one track Spinnler has in mind right now is the one that is about to be constructed at the new Mike Callas Stadium complex at North Hagerstown High School.

On Thursday, Spinnler made his bid to put the stadium's committee on the right track to making it a high school and world class facility all in one.

Spinnler, joined by 20 members of the Tri-State track community, presented the Callas Stadium committee with $25,500 in pledges to be used to turn the new North High facility into one fitting USA Track & Field (USATF) specs, which would allow Hagerstown to possibly host some major athletic events in the future.

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The pledges represent just over half of the $50,000 that would be needed to tailor the facility to meet those requirements.

"We've made a turn and are halfway home," said Spinnler, one of the most zealous promoters of track and road racing in the area. "The committee was very receptive to what we are offering. They wanted to see if the track and field community would go for it."

The stadium committee has been working on plans for the North High complex for many years. The facility is projected to be finished by the start of the 2006-07 school year. After working with budgets and plans for so long, the committee was intrigued by Spinnler's idea, provided the money was available.

"We think this will be a win-win situation," said Greg Slick, a member of the stadium committee. "All the prices we have been working with have been architect estimates. There was a point about a year ago when we knew that the plans would exceed the money we raised and the money we could raise, so there were cuts made.

"When Mike asked the question about making it a USATF level track, they were reasonable. It doesn't seem like a big deal. If they could come up with the money, God bless them."

Spinnler accepted the challenge and began an e-mail campaign two weeks ago to find passionate track and field participants and fans to help upgrade the facility.

He had a typewritten sheet of names of contributors, which included local standouts and former local standouts who used local track programs to move on to bigger things in their careers.

Spinnler will continue to campaign for donations, noting "the last half of the $50,000 will be tougher to raise than the first half." The stadium committee has given the track community a March 1 deadline to guarantee the funds for the renovations to the project.

"I'm hoping this will get the word out," Spinnler said. "There were a lot of people that didn't know about this until the other day. We are trying to branch out. We are looking for all former Washington County athletes to help make this happen."

And if Spinnler can deliver the entire amount, nothing would make the stadium committee happier to help make it happen.

"If someone can raise a couple of more bucks to help make this facility better, let them do it," Slick said. "There are no hesitations from our committee, saying that it was too late. This is one more way we can build this for the community and we don't have to do any extra work. The track community wanted it and they jumped in with both feet."

And with that, Spinnler is leaning for the finish line.

"This is all relative,' he said. "That $50,000 sounds like a lot of money, but it is small compared to the millions of dollars it could bring back. It's going to happen ... we are just going to have to pay for it."

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