Elma steps up to build football stadium

Estimated $4.5M project includes building a 1,300-seat covered grandstand complete with press box

For years now, the mere word “stadium” uttered at local Elma hot spots would often be met with looks of frustration and dissatisfaction.

Rightly so, as much needed and much desired improvements to Elma High School’s home field fell apart vote after vote after vote.

Five previous attempts at a stadium bond measure were put to the voters, and every time, for one reason or another, it failed, leading many in the community to believe it may never get done.

But out of those failures came a philanthropic group that decided to step in and succeed where the bureaucracy failed.

And now they are on the precipice of breaking ground on a Davis Field project once thought to be a fairy tale.

A group led by a local commercial property manager, his daughter and a throng of contributors is expected to begin work on completing several projects at the site in cooperation with the Elma School District.

“It’s good. Everybody is on board. We are off and running,” said Elma’s Ken Brogan, owner of Commercial Property Services, a commercial real-estate developer out of Olympia and general contractor on the project. “We’ve got a lot of support from local and not-so local companies, families and private parties. It’s looking very positive.”

The project includes building a 1,300-seat covered grandstand complete with press box on the west side of the football field, where the current metal bleachers are located.

The plan also includes paving Americans with Disabilities Act compliant walkways leading to the grandstand from the parking area.

Brogan said his team is ready to go and awaiting word from school district civil engineers. Once he receives the go-ahead, work will begin on the pathways with work on the stadium to follow.

“We anticipate getting the concrete for the pathway down to the stadium location built while the weather is great,” he said. “That is our first goal and we’re hoping to do that within the next 40-60 days.”

Brogan believes the project can be completed within a year, barring any unforeseen delays.

“We’re ready and are going to mobilize all the necessary equipment and staffing to really get after this thing. Our goal is to get it done quickly, but there are some obvious things that take a little more time. But so far, the public has been very supportive in participating,” he said. “If we get the concrete done this summer, which we will, and get out of the ground so that we don’t have any trouble with weather, the structure can go up when it’s raining. So, if we can get this thing done in a 10-month window, I think that’s very doable, barring any delays that are unknown at this time.”

A Chance to Play

The idea to take on a project of this magnitude – one that had failed through public-funding attempts so many times before – was born out of an idea from Brogan’s daughter, Elma cheer coach Delaney Holcomb.

“When my brother (Chance Brogan) passed, we had talked about doing a foundation in his name. One day, we were just talking about it and I brought it up to my dad and said, ‘What if we just did the stadium in his name? What if we built the stadium and we did it to honor him and remember him and my kids can someday grow up and play at the stadium and know it was named after their uncle as a special place to be?’ But it’s not just for my kids, it’s for the whole community.”

From there, Holcomb established the A Chance to Play Foundation, a local non-profit organization dedicated to “supporting Elma School District Sports facilities and bringing better opportunities to our youth” and named after Chance Brogan, Ken’s son and Delaney’s brother who passed away in August 2022.

The project is a public-private venture, with the foundation raising funds to help cover costs of the project – an estimated $4.5 million – with several businesses, including Brogan’s, donating labor, materials, funds and upon completion, the grandstand itself.

The group has received the blessing of the school district, which wanted to ensure this was a community project. To comply with the district’s wishes, the foundation is holding a fundraising gala from 6-10 p.m. on Saturday, June 22 at the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds.

The gala costs $60 plus a $5.87 fee per general admission ticket, while a table of six tickets can be reserved for $360 (plus $25.99 fee).

There will be both a silent and live auction, with one of the items up for bid being a hot tub from Spa Delivery in Elma. There will also be a raffle of a hunting rifle from East County Guns.

“I’ve been to a couple of businesses and their questions to me are, ‘Well, if it’s being funded by our family to do in my brother’s name, then why are we holding a gala or doing a foundation or doing a fundraiser?’” Holcomb said. “And the answer to that is when I spoke to the school, the school really wanted to keep it as community-oriented as much as possible. They were absolutely so thankful for it and they never told us no. We had just talked about keeping the community involved as much as possible. There are a lot of people out there that do want to help and would love to help, but they can’t at that big of a volume. So if the most somebody can do is buy a ticket to our event, really, that’s helping. That money is going straight back to our foundation. … So this money will go back to building the stadium.”

“They were grateful in all capital letters. They were very appreciative because it’s not an easy process,” Brogan said of the reaction of Elma school administrators. “This thing has failed in the past, miserably, and I think the approach in the past was overzealous. It was too far-reaching. It was too much of an impact on the community with the taxes. In this case, you’re just going to have those that are capable of donating, even if it’s $100 or $500, whatever it may be, they still are a part of this and their name is going to be on a list that is at that stadium forever. I think it’s a great approach and that’s how we are going to do it.”

A graphical rendering shows a proposed grandstand project for Elma High School’s Davis Field.

SUBMITTED GRAPHIC A graphical rendering shows a proposed grandstand project for Elma High School’s Davis Field.

‘This is getting built’

Brogan and Holcomb are confident they can find success where the project has failed to get off the ground floor in the past because of its public-private nature.

“It is going to get built, no question. We are going to build this stadium,” Brogan claimed. “We are going to take every avenue possible in front of us to make that happen. We want the community and the public involved in this, so they participate in making this happen. Everybody at the school board agrees with me. This must be a public participation effort. It just means a lot more.”

“We had to jump through quite a bit of stuff to be able to donate this to the district,” Holcomb said. “We really just want to keep it community oriented and getting people back involved and get the bad taste out of everybody’s mouth with this stadium thing. People have just been so sour about it. So we’d really like to see a majority of the community show up and be present.”

The group hopes to raise at least $2 million outside of what has been previously donated to cover the costs of the project.

Brogan stated he believes “we’re going to get really close” to covering the costs through donations and stressed there are no fees to the taxpayer.

“That’s the piece that sinks the boat in these types of situations where the funding just isn’t there for it,” he said. “Our goal here is just to do a great thing and have the school district have their home games comfortably.”

“Sports are important. That’s something that keeps kids busy and keeps them out of trouble,” Holcomb said. “It starts at a young age. If we don’t have something in our community our kids can be proud of and want to be a part of, they’re not going to be a part of sports.”

The grandstand is expected to be named the “Chance Brogan Memorial Stadium” in honor of the fallen former Eagle. The name will stay after the grandstand is donated.

“He was an amazing young man and just a really good person,” Brogan said of Chance. “This is how we will get this thing built, and it will be awesome and it will be there for decades.”

For more information or to donate, email achancetoplay22@gmail.com or visit A Chance to Play Foundation’s Facebook page.