Leveling the playing field: Newman would pay more under district’s one-fee-fits-all plan for SHS field

August 7, 2018

STERLING – Sterling School District wants to charge Newman Central Catholic High School and other outside entities $2,000 every time they use Roscoe Eades Stadium; the private school would prefer to pay half that.

Newman, which is Sterling’s only tenant, rented the football stadium for a flat rate of $5,000 a year for the past 6 years, but that contract is up.

If the $2,000 rental rate is approved, Newman will pay $10,000 for five regular season games and $6,000 at the most for three home playoff games.

“The board feels that its is a fair market value,” Superintendent Tad Everett said.

The new rate, first discussed publicly at a June 26 finance, transportation and facilities committee meeting, would take effect immediately.

Newman’s counter: “We’ve offered to pay $1,000 a game, security and electricity if we use the lights for a night game,” Athletic Director Mike Papoccia said.

The new rate is designed to help offset the cost of recent upgrades – $1.1 million in new turf, $265,000 to improve the track and $3.7 million in other renovations made since 2012 – and to “provide consistency if other clubs wanted to rent the stadium,” Everett said.

Except for the turf, which was paid for with private donations, that money came from countywide sales tax and property tax revenue.

“To be fair to Newman and provide consistency, if a club soccer team from Rockford wanted to play a team from Peoria at our stadium, they would be charged the same rate,” Everett said.

“We feel that there should be rental rates when private organizations use our facilities.”

Admittedly, there have been very few times schools other than Newman have used the stadium, he said.

Newman families already paid their share of the improvements, Papoccia noted.

“We have families who go to our school that helped build the stadium by paying sales tax, property tax and donations,” he said.

The matter has not made it to a Sterling school board agenda because the two schools still are hammering out an agreement, Everett said.

“We have to have a finalized agreement before it can be placed on the agenda,” Everett said.

“I don’t know when it will be voted on but we’re trying to reach an agreement.”

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