Auto dealer pledges funds

A car dealership will give Center Grove schools $1.5 million to replace bleachers at the high school and has promised more money to upgrade the press box.

Ray Skillman is giving Center Grove $1 million to cover the cost of new bleachers at the high school football stadium, and another $500,000 will be paid to the school district for naming rights of the facility, which can be used for upgrades to the football stadium. And now, Center Grove also plans to replace the bleachers for fans at the high school tennis courts and soccer fields.

In addition to that, Skillman also has committed building a new press box for the football field, which is expected to be done through the Center Grove Education Foundation.

The agreement is the second one the school district has made with the auto dealer.

In 2011, Skillman gave the school district $1 million to help cover athletic expenses so students would not have to pay fees to play sports. In exchange, Skillman was able to advertise on athletics facilities.

Under the new agreement, Skillman will get naming rights at the football stadium for the next 50 years, along with space for signs and advertising at concession areas and scoreboards at the high school and middle school football fields, baseball fields, softball fields and basketball courts.

In March, superintendent Richard Arkanoff closed the bleachers at the football field indefinitely.

The bleachers had rusted nuts and bolts, misaligned support beams, thinning galvanization that protects the steel and a lack of solid foundation underneath, according to reports from structural engineers who inspected the stadium seating.

Two weeks later, Skillman offered to cover the cost of replacing the home and visitors sides of the bleachers, Arkanoff said. The stadium is already named after Skillman as part of the $1 million given to Center Grove five years ago.

The existing bleachers have already been torn down. The bleachers had been there since 1975, with the visitors side installed just before 2000 and more seating on the north end zone purchased in 2012. The new seating is anticipated to be done in time for the first football scrimmage in mid-August, Arkanoff had said.

About 1,900 new seats will be added to the stadium, meaning just under 6,000 people will be able to sit in the new bleachers this football season. The projected cost of the bleachers is $1.3 million.

The press box is expected to be replaced with additional money from Skillman, but that will be done through the Center Grove Education Foundation, Arkanoff said.

Skillman is expected to give the $1 million to the school district by the end of 2016, according to the contract between Skillman and the Center Grove school district. Ray Skillman Auto Group will give the school district annual payments of $50,000 for the next 10 years to secure the naming rights of the stadium, the contract states. The $50,000 funds can only be used for upgrades to the football stadium.

School officials also will be replacing the tennis court and soccer bleachers at the high school, since they will be done by the same vendor as the football stadium. An additional $168,000 will be spent by the school to cover the cost of the new bleachers, said Center Grove spokeswoman Stacy Conrad.

The existing home and visitors bleachers at the main soccer field will get another 320 seats added, while the existing tennis bleachers will be moved to the secondary soccer field, Conrad said.

The tennis courts will have new seating added on the east and south sides of the courts, she said. The total capacity will be 632 people once the bleachers are installed, Conrad said.

What other schools have

Here’s a look at some of the agreements between schools and local companies:

Center Grove

Indiana University Health is paying the school district $65,000 per year for 10 years to be named the official sports medicine provider for Center Grove. The agreement made in 2013 included allowing IU Health logos to be placed on signs, such as directions or maps, on school property.

Ray Skillman paid $1 million to the school district in 2011 in exchange for advertising on sports facilities, which covered student-athlete fees and athletic department needs.


Johnson Memorial Health paid $200,000 to the school district in a five-year agreement to be considered the official health care provider for Franklin schools. With the agreement, signs can be placed in the high school gym, arts center and football field. Johnson Memorial Health will supply the nursing staff and supplies for every school building.


In 2011, Johnson Memorial Health and Community Health Network were signed as the health care provider for the school district in exchange for $200,000, which paid for improvements, such as new bleachers at the high school football field.