October 3rd, 2011

Gloucester sells stadium’s name

By Akilah Johnson

Gloucester’s Newell Stadium is in a state of disrepair, with sagging stands, a condemned bathroom, and an unsafe track.

But a half-million dollar donation from an athletic shoe company means that the facility will soon get an overhaul and a new name: The New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium.

The name change will make the school stadium one of just a few in Massachusetts to bear a corporate title.

The city agreed to sell the naming rights to help pay for a much-needed $3.5 million renovation. Gloucester extended the offer to any entity willing to pay at least $500,000 and keep Newell Stadium in the new name. New Balance was the only corporation to take up the city’s offer, agreeing to pay $50,000 annually for 10 years.

City officials opened New Balance’s sealed bid at 11 a.m. yesterday, and “the room erupted in applause,’’ said Mayor Carolyn Kirk. “The stadium is in deplorable condition, and our children in Gloucester deserve so much better.’’

The derelict condition of the 75-year-old stadium, named for a Gloucester naval officer who died in World War I, contrasts sharply with its idyllic setting along the Annisquam River.

Gloucester High School sits next door to the facility, but physical education classes do not use the field, and the track’s rubber and asphalt are no longer usable.

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