An artist’s rendering shows how a proposed athletic complex could look at Maxwell Field, beside Winthrop Grade School at 23 Highland Ave. Courtesy of Atlantic Resource Consultants

WINTHROP — Supporters of a proposal for a new athletic complex next to Winthrop Grade School say completion of the estimated $4.5 million project will rely on gifts and fundraising, and not require money from local taxpayers.

About 30 people gathered for an informational forum Tuesday at Winthrop High School, at which project plans were outlined for the project beside the school at 23 Highland Ave.

Members of the Winthrop Athletic Complex Committee said they will oversee funding for the project, which will then be given to the community. The seven-member group is not directly affiliated with the school or town.

Founding member Stephen Shuman, who is vice president of Charlie’s Family of Dealerships, one of the largest car dealers in Maine, said fundraising began in 2018 with a sizable donation from the company.

“We discussed the idea of doing a turf facility with (athletic director Joel Stoneton),” Shuman said, adding they then began talking with others in Winthrop and beyond and doing more fundraising.

Shuman said as of Tuesday, the group had raised about $1.2 million, which is almost enough to cover the first phase of work.


The project is estimated to cost $4.5 million and scheduled to be done in three phases.

The first phase, estimated at $1.5 million, is to include a turf field and bleachers at the current site of Maxwell Field. It would be used for football, soccer and field hockey.

Phase two is to involve creating a track around the turf field, and the third phase would include additional parking, concessions, bathrooms and locker rooms.

Winthrop Superintendent James Hodgkin said students now have to go to the grade school to use the locker room, so the improvements would allow home and visiting teams to remain closer to the field.

The public hearing Tuesday was led by Andy Johnston, principal at Atlantic Resource Consultants, a Freeport-based engineering company.

After delivering an overview of the project, Johnston took questions for about 45 minutes, one of the first asking how long the project is expected to take.


He said if all goes well, including the Winthrop Town Council accepts the athletic complex as a gift to the community and the remaining funds are raised, the project’s first phase could be completed this summer.

“If the contractor does a real good job on the base for that turf field,” Johnston said, “the turf guys could come and be gone in 10 days.”

At Tuesday’s night’s informational forum, Shuman said the Winthrop Athletic Complex Committee is steering the effort to fully fund the project. It would then give the athletic complex to the town and schools.

The group is also looking to fund maintenance for 10 years after each phase is completed, Shuman said.

Johnston said the project is designed so each phase could stand on its own, and the next phase of work could start as soon as money is raised and available.

The group is now awaiting approval for nonprofit status, which Shuman said is expected soon.


“Once we get that, then we can open it up to more public fundraising, as far as donations go,” he said. “There will be a website, and that’s all we’re going to open up for now. We’ll include all the giving levels.

“There are naming rights for, I believe, concession stands, and naming rights for the stands and for the lights. Charlie’s Family of Dealerships is going to have the naming right to the field for a sizable donation.”

Fans watch from the hillside beside Maxwell Field in Winthrop during a homecoming football game. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Aside from naming rights and maintenance coverage ending after 10 years, Shuman and Hodgkin said there are no conditions or strings attached to the gift.

“The big reason I wanted to have it as a gift is, obviously, it’s great for the school, and there’s no tax burden on the members of the community,” Shuman said. “Usually, when something like this happens, it’s for major improvements, and then people’s taxes go up. I want to make sure people understand the point that we’re going to do this and not get taxes increased.”

Johnston said after the forum he is looking forward to the field’s completion.

“It’s a chance to see something get built that you can genuinely see a benefit to everybody,” he said. “You see it from the start, from the conception, and then you see this thing open and the kids run out and they’ve got a new field to play on. These are fantastic projects to work on.”

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