Legacy Banquet assures April start for Bragg renovations
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Three days after a fundraiser intended to help pay for renovations to Bragg Stadium, work will begin on the project, said FAMU athletic director Milton Overton.
The Legacy Banquet, an event that is being staged by Bethel Missionary Baptist Church’s Empowerment Foundation, is expected to generate at least $60,000 to FAMU athletics. The banquet is the brainchild of Rev. R. B. Holmes, pastor at Bethel, and will take place March 30 at the Lawson Center.
Combined with a donation of $64,356 raised from the 2015 Legacy Banquet, the Bethel foundation would have raised more than $100,000. That, said Overton, removes any concern about the project finishing on time.
The last renovation at Bragg, a 60-year-old stadium with seating for 25,000, was done in 1982.
Overton announced four months ago that Bragg is in need of structural repairs during a Board of Trustees meeting. At the same time, he estimated that the project will cost just over $600,000 and that some home games might be played elsewhere.
However, he said this past week that the project will begin April 1 and that it will be completed in time for games to be played at Bragg Stadium this season. FAMU opens the 2017 season on Aug. 27 against Texas Southern in the Jake Gaither Classic
A deposit of $200,000 will be made in order to keep the renovation project on schedule, Overton said.
“If Bethel had not done what it did, I don’t know that we will be quite able to make that payment,” Overton said. “That’s how important it (the banquet) is.
“Without the Legacy Banquet, we would not have the level of progress (and fundraising) awareness.”
The event has indeed brought awareness to the urgency of funding for the renovations. Since it was first announced a little more than a month ago, members of the clergy in Tallahassee have rallied to the cause.
Several businesses and individuals have also committed to donating $1,000 each. That number is over 50, said Col. Ronald Joe, a member of the organizing committee.
One of the attractions is that the event will recognize 15 individuals who have ties to FAMU. Each of them has been assisting in promoting the event, said Joe, who added that he expects the event to surpass the fund-raising goal.
“They are honored to be singled out and they are happy that someone has thought of them in this good way because they’ve been loyal to FAMU,” Joe said. “Secondly; they understand that we are trying to raise money and that people will see their names and will feel they are giving to a cause.”
Eddie Jackson, president of the 220 Quarterback Club who is being honored as a FAMU supporter, is expected to have one of the largest contingents in attendance. Some members of the club have made donations of $1,000 each, while Jackson has purchased a full table of tickets at $100 each.
Jackson praised the initiative led by Holmes, agreeing with Overton that funding the Bragg project would have been much harder without the Legacy Banquet.
“It’s a major effort that has produced major results,” Jackson said. He also said that he isn’t surprised by the huge support for the event because of its cause.
“We always felt that FAMU was never going to put itself in a position whereby they were going to have to close Bragg Stadium,” Jackson said. “When we say to the FAMU family that Bragg Stadium needs so many dollars in order for FAMU to play its football games in the stadium, I thought the FAMU family would respond to that.”