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A reader’s insight into the stadium name switch

To the editor:

According to the information at this archived link on the Wayback Machine, https://web.archive.org/web/20150920152910/http://www.salemohiohistory.com/HistoryMakers/General-Reilly.aspx, the land on which Reilly/Sebo Stadium now stands was purchased by the Salem Board of Education on April 15, 1915 using funds from General James W. Reilly’s estate. General Reilly left no will and his estate was awarded to the State of Ohio. The court determined that the money should be apportioned to Columbiana County schools.  

A sports field apparently already existed at the location prior to it being purchased by the Salem BOE. The article at the link above states that the Quakers had been playing football there since 1910 and that other sporting events took place there as well.  

The article also says, “Salem was the first town to use Reilly’s money to erect a permanent memorial to General Reilly’s life.” The link states that small improvements were made to the field over the next 13 years.  It says, “Reilly School was built in 1928 and the stadium was greatly enlarged.” It is not clear from the article if Reilly’s money was also used to build the school and enlarge the stadium. Also, it is not clear if it was a stipulation of the court that General Reilly be permanently memorialized. He should be in my opinion.

The article says that Salem’s portion of the Reilly estate was $5,472.69. The average rate of inflation from 1915 to 2018 was about 3.17 percent. That would make the value of Reilly’s money equal to about $136,062 in 2018 dollars. Compare that to Bob Sebo’s financial contributions to Salem and it is obvious that Salem is very fortunate Mr. Sebo is willing to spend his money to improve the community where he grew up and now lives.

I do not have a strong opinion on changing the name of the stadium. I grew up in Salem and it will always be Reilly Stadium to me. Heck, it probably always will be Reilly Stadium to Bob Sebo.  

It is important that General James W. Reilly’s contribution continue to be honored. It is important that Mr. Sebo’s contributions are honored, too. They can both be honored in the same venue.

Mr. Sebo can be honored by having Sebo Stadium signage prominently displayed throughout the facility. General Reilly can be honored by having the original name of the field woven into the end zones of the turf field: “The General Reilly Athletic Field of the Salem Public Schools.”

PS: A precedent has now been set.  The next time someone donates, say, $1,000,000 to improve Sebo Stadium, nee Reilly Stadium, the name of the stadium should changed to honor the new donor. Like the old saying goes — records were made to be broken.

John Swetye,

Darien, Connecticut

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