Before reaching an agreement with a car dealership to pay for new bleachers and a press box, Center Grove school officials knew they had to get the process started or they wouldn’t have the new seats in time for this year’s football season.

In March, superintendent Richard Arkanoff ordered the bleachers closed because of concerns about whether they were safe due to repairs and work that was needed.

Two months later, school board members approved borrowing $1.67 million to replace the bleachers at the football stadium and at the tennis and soccer fields. That same month, the school board also approved a $1.5 million sponsorship deal with Ray Skillman and said the money would be used to pay for new bleachers at the football stadium.

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But the school district had to borrow money in order to get the work started because the sponsorship money was coming in over a period of time and Center Grove had to be able to secure their place in line to get new bleachers in time for football season to begin in August, Arkanoff said.

“Before we had the agreement with Skillman, we needed to secure our place to get them done so they could be done before the season,” Arkanoff said.

Now, the school district plans to repay the money that was borrowed along with interest as soon as 2018. The goal is to pay less in interest by paying off the loan faster, he said.

The money will be paid back with a lump sum payment from Skillman scheduled this year, which will total $1 million, and yearly payments of $50,000 from Skillman and money from the football athletic fund, Arkanoff said. The school district also made a down payment of $350,000 for the project from the high school construction fund, which paid for renovation projects including a relocated front office, wider staircases, new floors and a music wing expansion, he said.

The school district is not paying for the new press box because Skillman has agreed to fund that cost up to $400,000. Skillman has also had a member of his staff overseeing construction — along with school officials, he said. Skillman, a Center Grove area resident, had also done a previous sponsorship agreement with Center Grove schools and has a similar agreement with Clark-Pleasant schools.

As the bills for that work have come in, they have been sent to Skillman to pay, Arkanoff said.

Next up, the school district will have the bleachers at the soccer field and tennis courts replaced because that work has not yet been done, Arkanoff said. The school district is paying that cost, estimated to be about $100,000, he said.

The $1 million lump sum payment from Skillman, promised for improvements to the football stadium, will go to the $1.67 million loan once the money comes in by the end of the year, he said.

The other $500,000 from Skillman, which is part of an agreement for naming rights to the football stadium, will come in over the next 10 years, Arkanoff said. That money will be combined with money from the football athletic find, which collects money from ticket sales and other sources, to pay off the rest of the loan, he said.

In exchange, Skillman gets naming rights at the football stadium and signs on the football, basketball, baseball and softball scoreboards and concession areas, according to the agreement. No other car dealerships will be allowed to advertise at Center Grove, the agreement said.

If Skillman terminated the agreement, it would end when his notice was effective. If Skillman breached the contract, the naming rights would end. And if the school district breached the contract, Center Grove would have to reimburse Skillman half the payment amounts, the agreement said.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.