The inaugural game at The Rayen Stadium in Youngstown - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

The inaugural game at The Rayen Stadium in Youngstown

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - A field that sat empty for years is home to the new Rayen Stadium.

It began with an idea by former Youngstown Superintendent Dr. Wendy Webb three years ago.

Block by block, dollar by dollar, the money was raised and on Saturday afternoon a ribbon cutting ceremony took place to mark the $3.2 million achievement.

"We looked at the stadium and thought this would be a perfect project to do. Every weekend our kids were spending so much time on the road. Every weekend they were going away to games because they had no home place to play or to offer other teams to come," said Dr. Webb.

The Youngstown City Schools have not had their own stadium for decades. Since 1983 teams have played at Youngstown State University's Stambaugh Stadium or traveled to away games, but that has changed this football season.

"Since 1983 our students, athletes, fans and community people have had to travel from Cleveland to Columbus to play football games. Now, we have our own stadium. We can schedule five or six home games a year. Students can come to the games, the parents can come to the games," said Edward Matey, East High Athletic Director.

Alumni and others who donated took photos as students checked out the bleachers and their new field.

Students like Marquez Thomas, who is in the 10th grade, say East High finally has something to call their own. Anthony McGee, who is a senior, says it will be great getting to march on a home field. He is hopeful this is a start of more to come like a track for the track team and a band shell for band members.

There were numerous donors who made the new stadium possible. Youngstown Orthopaedic bought naming rights to the scoreboards, Jack Antonucci's son bought naming rights to the field for his dad and the Rayen Trustees purchased the naming rights to have the stadium named after the late Judge William Rayen who founded Youngstown's first public school in 1866.

The East High Panthers took their first snap on their home field for the first time in 29 years in front of a sold out crowd against the Ursuline Irish. The Panthers lost 41-24.

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