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story.lead_photo.caption A view of the stadium Thursday looking toward the visitors side press box and bleachers at Bentonville West High School in Centerton. - Photo by NWA Democrat-Gazette / BEN GOFF • @NWABENGOFF

BENTONVILLE -- First National Bank of NWA has donated $150,000 to West High School's stadium project in exchange for naming rights to the field.

It's the first major donation the School District has received for the stadium, which is being completed this year on a $3.8 million budget. School officials expect the stadium be completed in time for the 2018 football season.

Bleacher cost

The Bentonville School Board will vote today on whether to accept a contract with Southern Bleacher Co. to design, manufacture and construct the home grandstand at West High School’s stadium with a multi-level press box for an amount not to exceed $820,000. Southern Bleacher is based in Graham, Texas.

Source: Staff report

A check presentation is expected at today's School Board meeting. The name "First National Bank of NWA Field" will be painted onto the field. The naming rights are good for eight years, according to Scott Passmore, the district's athletic director.

Passmore said the district has had multiple conversations with the bank over the past few months about the possibility of a donation.

"We're extremely excited about First National Bank taking on the naming rights for our field," he said.

Passmore said he's still talking with individuals and other businesses -- he did not identify them -- about donations to the project. There are still opportunities for naming rights to things such as the press box and the stadium itself, he said.

West High's football field includes bleachers and a press box on the visitors side. The stadium, as it is, isn't qualified to host varsity football games, though it's suitable for practices and games below the varsity level. Bleachers, restrooms, a press box, a concessions stand and a ticket booth will be among the features added to complete the stadium.

The School Board did not ask for money to build athletic facilities in 2013 when voters approved a 2.9-mill tax increase that allowed the construction of West High School in Centerton.

The district established a private fundraising committee under Passmore's direction in August 2016. The goal was to raise $6 million to complete the stadium. Those efforts were largely unsuccessful.

The board agreed last summer to put nearly $2 million toward the stadium as "seed money" in hopes of jumpstarting the fundraising campaign.

Passmore returned to the board in October with another plan. The district would pay the additional $1.8 million needed to complete the stadium, with the athletic department reimbursing that money through sponsorship contributions it receives over the next 15 years. The board agreed to that financing method in a 5-2 vote.

Passmore said First National Bank's contribution will go toward reducing what is owed to the district and will not add to the project's budget.

Rob Husong, president of First National Bank, was quoted in a district news release about the bank's donation.

"First National Bank of NWA, our staff and board are honored to support the Bentonville Schools and the Bentonville and Centerton communities with this commitment," Husong said. "Giving back in significant ways to the area we serve has been our tradition for over 145 years as a division of First National Bank of Fort Smith."

The bank has five locations in Benton County, including one in Centerton, according to its website.

Hight Jackson Associates is the architect and Flintco is the construction manager on the stadium project. Both firms worked on the rest of West High School, which was completed in July 2016.

NW News on 01/16/2018

Print Headline: Bentonville West stadium gets first major donation

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