Abessinio Stadium to Replace Baynard


Image source: wdel.com

Joseph Sullivan, Staff Writer

Back in October, Salesianum agreed to a public-private partnership with Wilmington city to renovate Baynard Stadium. In the agreement, Salesianum was tasked to raise between $15 and $20 million dollars in order to tear down and build a new stadium. In early December, the Rocco A. and Mary Abessinio Foundation, founded by Rocco Abessinio and his wife, donated $16 million dollars towards this Salesianum goal. Rocco Abessinio, who is the CEO and founder of Roch Capital and Applied Bank, was an alumnus of Salesianum. He graduated in the class of 1959 as a football player and recognized his donation as a way of helping children of immigrants. The donation, which will augment Salesianum endowment, has the potential to increase financial aid opportunity for students. Abessinio hopes to help children of immigrants, like himself. He later recalled fond memories with his football coach, Dim Montero, whom he plans to have a memorial built for.

This donation is a historical milestone in Salesianum and national history: it is the largest donation to a private school in Delaware and is also the third-largest donation to a United States Catholic secondary school. According to President Brendan Kennealy of Salesianum, “Salesianum and others have had a lot of great memories at Baynard, and it was a great place to play football and have track meets, and we hope to capture some of that nostalgia — but not get stuck there. We want to build a modern facility where the next 50 to 100 years of kids and young athletes can make new memories, too.” The stadium’s most recent major renovation was in 1972, but its current condition makes a simple facelift far from possible to do the job. President Kennealey commented by saying, “We’re going to build a beautiful new stadium that hopefully creates an experience like the great experience everyone had at Baynard, with a whole lot of new, modern amenities.” The new stadium is planned to entail an eight lane track, a turf field, a new scoreboard, concession stand, as well as a community room with a press box. New lights, grandstands, and locker rooms are also included in the renovation. In total, the project is planned to last 15 months and begin towards the end of the 2019 school year.

Renovations are planned to end in the threshold of the 2020 school-year, and the games during the 2019 football season will be away.
Previously, the stadium has had its operations run by the Department of State Parks and Recreation, which has annually invested $100,000 in maintaining the stadium. The stadium was also owned by the city. Under the new public-private contract, Salesianum will have options of leasing the stadium for up to 100 years. The contract entails 1 year continuations of the lease for a consecutive 50-year period after the first 50 years of lease is over. Salesianum will continue to fundraise for the new stadium, but a gift like this will have a lasting influence on the large community.