Sanibel Captiva Community Bank announced a sizable donation that will cover the outstanding cost of the planned Edison Stadium improvements at Fort Myers High School on Wednesday.
The $275,000 from the bank will go toward a replacement of the grass field with synthetic turf along with an upgrade of the track to a rubberized surface.
"It really was just a godsend," Fort Myers Principal Robert Butz said. "They stepped up."
The project totaled more than $1 million, made up of a $250,000 grant by the Miami Dolphins through the National Football League Foundation Grassroots Program, a matching grant from orthopedic surgeon John Kagan as well as other community donations.
The field has long been a drain on the school district, which has funded five major field renovation projects in the past eight years at Edison Stadium as the grass field is prone to deteriorating because of overuse and weather. The asphalt track, which has played host to the longstanding Edison Relays, is an outlier at modern track meets.
Hurricane Ian halted fundraising efforts for the Community Field Project, delaying the groundbreaking originally expected to happen in December.
That's why Sanibel Captiva Bank's contribution came as "a huge relief," Butz said.
Butz said he hopes that they can break ground on the project within the next two months so that the construction is complete by late June, avoiding rainy season.
For athletics, this means Fort Myers lacrosse schedules will frontload home games and track practices might be held elsewhere in order to avoid conflicts.
Butz expressed gratitude toward the community fundraising efforts with "a huge thank you" for Sanibel Captival Community Bank.
Kyle DeCicco, president and CEO of Sanibel Captiva, said in a news release that almost 25 percent of their employees have a connection to Fort Myers High School.
"We’re committed to supporting the youth of Southwest Florida in academics and athletics, and we’re honored to partner with such a well-respected, high-performing school like Fort Myers High School that’s rooted in Lee County history and traditions," he said.
The Lee County School District approved the renovation plans in 2022. Superintendent Christopher Bernier will need to sign off to begin the permitting process.
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Sanibel Captiva Bank donation paves way for Fort Myers High's Edison Stadium upgrade