The fundraising campaign for a new YMCA in downtown Canton will be closely connected with Eric Snow, the former McKinley High School basketball star and NBA player. An event is set for Wednesday to kick off the community phase of the fund-raising campaign.
The new downtown YMCA will honor a man who honed his basketball skills at the original one as a child — Eric Snow.
The downtown facility will be named in honor of the former McKinley High School basketball star and longtime NBA player.
But before that can happen, more money needs to be raised to demolish the old, now-closed YMCA building and construct a 26,000-square-foot facility.
The community phase of the fundraising campaign will launch at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Timken High School. Snow will be the special guest, along with former NFL player and Massillon Tigers football star Chris Spielman.
A total of $3.2 million has been raised for the project, including a significant contribution by Snow and a roughly $700,000 federal grant, along with support from some local foundations and individual donors. The downtown YMCA will be at the site of the former one at McKinley Avenue and Second Street NW.
Snow’s contribution will be announced Wednesday, said Tim Shetzer, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Central Stark County. Snow lives in the Atlanta area.
“It’s something that’s really the cornerstone for the project quite frankly,” Shetzer said of Snow’s contribution.
The fundraising goal is $4.9 million. “I think it’s a situation where you have to understand the economic times ... and understand that there are people out there who understand the importance of providing opportunities for our youth,” Snow said of the fundraising campaign.
The downtown facility is being named the Eric Snow YMCA because he’s an example of a young person who can grow up to be successful and contribute to the community, Shetzer said.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH
The old YMCA was 100,000 square feet, with a nine-story tower attached. The operating expenses had been exceeding revenue by about $200,000 a year, Shetzer said, leading to its closure in 2008. The new YMCA will be “right-sized” and more energy efficient. Membership is projected at about 4,000.
The facility will include a gymnasium, 20-yard long indoor pool and a fitness area with cardio and weight-training equipment. The pool will not be designed for competitive swimming, Shetzer said.
Shetzer said he’s hopeful the new YMCA will open in 2013. The opening date depends on fundraising efforts and the demolition of the existing structure, he said.
The former YMCA building may be razed this summer sometime after the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival to avoid interference with those activities, Shetzer said.
Snow said a downtown YMCA is important because it offers Christian values and “great family values.”
“And they’ve historically done a great job of putting in programs and opportunities for our youth,” he said. “And that’s what it’s about.”
Page 2 of 2 - Snow operates Eric Snow Sports and does freelance basketball-related television work. The Georgia-based Eric Snow Sports hosts boys and girls basketball camps, tournaments and events.
Snow played in the NBA for more than 10 seasons and reached the NBA Finals with the Seattle SuperSonics, Philadelphia 76ers and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Snow said he has fond childhood memories of the downtown YMCA. He recalls spending the night during youth-oriented events and having fun there.
Snow said he wants the new YMCA to offer the same benefits to youth.
“Being able to create opportunities or easier opportunities for our youth and families is obviously what I’m trying to accomplish.”