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St. Francis to unveil $4.5 million athletic complex

A glitzy $4.5 million athletic complex at St. Francis High School now has its crown jewel.

High school officials on Saturday will unveil a new fieldhouse that completes a massive overhaul of the school’s outdoor athletic facilities on Camp Road, across the street from the main campus in Athol Springs.

And the new Gacioch Family Athletic Center will host an athletic event for the first time on Monday, when the annual end-of-year track and field meet for area Catholic elementary schools begins.

The 7,500-square-foot fieldhouse includes locker rooms, an athletic training room, spaces for coaches and officials, restrooms, a concessions area and a hospitality suite overlooking the field. It marks the completion of a two-phase project that began in 2015 with the installation of an $800,000 new synthetic grass field and an eight-lane all-weather track, both of which opened last fall. The synthetic turf, the same kind as used in Ralph Wilson Stadium, replaced a grass field that had been worn out from frequent use by football, soccer and lacrosse teams. Instead of suiting up on campus and walking across busy Camp Road before games, student athletes now will be able to use the locker rooms in the fieldhouse.

“The project’s probably been a dream for the last 10 years,” said the Rev. Michael E. Sajda, school president.

The center is named after William T. Gacioch, Nancy Haberman Gacioch and their two sons, David and Michael, who graduated from the school in the 1980s.

William and Nancy Gacioch donated $1 million to the project, which will include space for the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

The project also received a $1 million donation from 1976 alumnus John Mastrantoni and his wife, Mary Ann, and a substantial contribution from former Buffalo Bills general manager Bill Polian and his wife, Eileen, whose sons attended the school. The new field was named in honor of the Polian family.

In addition to the fieldhouse, the second phase of the project included new stadium lighting, a scoreboard, gateway entrances, fencing and expanded paved parking lot and access roads.

The St. Francis project is among a spate of pricey new high school outdoor athletic complexes that have debuted in the area over the past few years.

School officials said all of the funds for the project were donated.