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Stadium Articles

Grand Island Memorial Stadium

DECEMBER 3, 2018

Original Campaign Materials

Note from Bayard H. Paine, Jr. Chairman of the 1947 Final Campaign Drive to the American Legion Post No. 53

Tradition, honor, glory, and memories

When the GIPS Foundation decided to take on a fundraising effort to renovate Grand Island’s Memorial Stadium, the first thing we knew we had to do was research the past. We wanted to know how this community pulled together to build the stately Memorial Stadium and who was involved. We found some great help at the Grand Island Public Library and started to piece the information together. 

Shortly after we started the project we got a call from Jean Ashworth Fisher class of 1950. She explained that she had a copy of the program for the first game played at the stadium (Friday, September 19, 1947). Mrs. Fisher graciously donated this program to us. It was a wonderful addition to our growing repertoire and understanding of the initial project.

When we went looking for some video footage of the Class of 1949 football great Bobby Reynolds, another Grand Island High School grad came to the rescue. Tom Hill, class of 1964 lent us his copy of a football game where you can see just how talented Grand Island’s Mr. Touchdown was. He weaved in and out, hurdled other players and made quite an impression. A clip of Bobby is included in our campaign video.

Still, we were piecing together memories and official documentation of the project. We were missing THE FILE. The school district didn’t own the stadium until its dedication. The school district didn’t fundraise for the project…so we were pretty sure that the district didn’t have THE FILE. 

We were hoping that THE FILE documenting the campaign effort existed. This summer our friend Bill Scott brought us a file from his father’s things. The tag on the file read: “MEMORIAL STADIUM, Bayard H. Paine, Jr. Chairman, Final Drive.” This file was the American Legion file. Bayard H. Paine, Jr. class of 1924, had headed up the final drive for the project as the initial drive fell just a bit short. Bill’s father was A.C. Scott, class of 1942. A.C. served as both Legion Commander and Commander of the elite 40 & 8. A.C. Scott also served as the Veteran’s Service Officer from 1971 to 1988. 

While other files might exist, we were giddy with what we found in this file: Newspaper clippings for all of the mentions of the campaign, fundraising letters and campaign materials, personal notes, and the original donor list. This file helped us fill in some major missing pieces.

We are so grateful to the Scott family for preserving this history and to Bayard H. Paine, Jr for meticulously keeping information for the file. And we are grateful to all of our alumni and friends that have helped us so far. If you have memories or information that you want to share with us, or you would like to get involved with the campaign, click here.  We need all hands on deck. 

Here is one little nugget we pulled from the file:

Original excerpt from the Grand Island Daily Independent, September 16, 1947:

The Daily Independent has a sense of personal pride in the Memorial stadium, which is to be dedicated tonight.  This newspaper has never supported more enthusiastically any community project.

It was well over two years ago that the proposal for a stadium in memory of the services performed by Hall county men and women in the armed services during World War II was first made.  The goal set, $100,000, looked almost unapproachable in a city the size of Grand Island.  But the committee in charge of the campaign went out after the money.  And the money came in.

There were hundreds of contributors – the number may have reached the thousands.  Some came back a second and third time.  The gifts ranged from $5,000 down to a few cents, and the same thought was behind each. 

At the end of the two and a half years, more than $100,000 has been made available-at least $1,000 more than that unapproachable sum of 1945.  The stadium has been all but completed, and will be ready for use by the time of 1947’s first football game next Friday night.  It is a classically beautiful athletic plant, and one that will take care of the community’s needs for years to come.  It isn’t as large as was first planned, because prices have gone up.  But the additions can be made as funds are made possible.

The stadium will serve a useful purpose not only for football games, but throughout the year.  It can be used for 4-H fairs, for the Harvest of Harmony, for many exhibitions, for concerts.  It is a great community asset, of which Grand Island has every reason to be proud.

How it all began ...

The 1945-47 Memorial Stadium Campaign included these 1,600 community donors. See the list of original donors here.


Letters and Lists


Memorial Stadium Dedication


News Clippings

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