BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Friday night lights will shine a whole lot brighter at Richard Kazmaier Stadium following a $2.6 million renovation project slated to take place next year. Plans are currently underway to renovate the stadium, which was originally constructed in 1961. The Panther Pride Foundation has organized the Kazmaier Stadium renewal project campaign for the work. Thus far, $1.1 million has been raised through pledges and donations during the “quiet phase,” said Sarah Otis, the director of Development and Alumni Relations. Next Friday, as part of Maumee High School’s homecoming activities, the foundation will kick off the public phase of the campaign with a dinner for current donors, and it will also host a community tent with information and visuals of the proposed project, including a virtual tour. “We want to open it up to the community to see this very exciting project,” Otis said. Renovations include new restrooms and new locker rooms on both the home side and visitor’s side of the stadium, and a new turf field will replace the current grass field. “That will help with the wear and tear and high usage. Right now some activities have to be delayed because the field gets too wet or muddy. With turf, you can continue to play regardless of weather conditions,” Otis said. A new, two-story addition will be constructed on the stadium’s home side west entryway to serve special events such as class reunions. The building will also house a new Panther Den for school swag and a new sports medicine and athletic trainer room. Cosmetic upgrades will also be completed in the concession area. The parking lot at the west entrance will also be paved and a new handicap-accessible lot and entryway will be added to the visitor side. The bell from Union School will be moved to the field so the Panther football team can ring it when it scores a touchdown. According to Otis, renovation work should begin in the spring with work completed next fall. “The stadium is a great community resource. It will offer accessibility and amenities for all visitors for many years to come,” she said. An April 2014 athletic facility assessment indicated that the building is in good condition, said district Assistant Superintendent Steve Lee, who assisted in formalizing construction plans. “Once we had that information, it shifted our focus from demolition of the current stadium to maximizing fundraising dollars,” he said. In 2014, school officials began researching the option of creating a foundation after a group of alumni expressed a desire to begin a capital campaign to fund stadium improvements. Aly Sterling Philanthropy conducted a feasibility study, which concluded a favorable response to the concept. The long-term goal is to continue fundraising well into the future for many other high school projects and initiatives, Otis said. For more information, or to make a donation online, please visit www.pantherpridefoundation.org. • The Kazmaier Stadium Renewal Campaign key donor recognition and formal launch will take place on Friday, October 6 from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. The community tent will be set up from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. outside of the stadium. Maumee High School is located at 1147 Saco St. in Maumee.