Rendering of future stadium bleachers, as presented to the Espanola school board. Courtesy image
School Board Votes For New Turf, Track, & Bleachers At EVHS
By ROBERT NARANJO
The Espanola School Board of Education at their regularly scheduled board meeting held on Wed., Oct. 12 voted to approve spending 2.4 million dollars to upgrade facilities at Espanola Valley High School’s Sundevil Stadium.
The vote was a 2-2 tie with board members, Yolanda Salazar and Ruben Archuleta,voting against the upgrade, with members Lucas Fresquez and Annabelle Almager, voting for the Sundevil Stadium project. Espanola School Board President, Pablo Lujan, broke the tie by voting to upgrade the track, field and bleachers including a new press box which includes new public address announcer’s space. Plans are to have work completed for 2017-18 school year.
Lujan told the Valley Daily Post, “It was a long time in coming. I’m excited for the kids who will play on the field and run on the track in the future.” He added, “It’s not only football, track, cross country programs, and cheer leading programs that will use the new facilities. There’s the possibility of starting up the soccer program again. That’s just the sports side. Many students will be using the facilities that are not in sports like the physical education classes, (P.E.).” Lujan said that the new facility will presumably host other community events.
Superintendent Eric Martinez said the school District was looking at putting in new bleachers for many years. Martinez explained that there was a request by Annabelle Almager, who is an Espanola school board member and serves as the Espanola Valley High School girls cross-country coach, to have school officials take a look at the track to fix problem areas on the track.
Roots were pushing the rubberized asphalt track but repairs would have been exorbitant. Martinez said “it snowballed from there” and the track repair morphed into approving a complete renovation of the “turf” which involves replacing the existing grass on the football field with modern artificial turf with a light green and dark green colored pattern that is popular and commonly used on fields today, and replacement of the bleachers and press box space
What was being termed “Turf, Track and Bleachers” by coaches, EVHS’s athletic director, the district’s facility director, and radio sports commentators the next morning on KDCE radio’s Coffee Break with Casey Gallegos, all lauded the board decision and uniformly said it will improve the current facility markedly. All agreed it would be a win-win for the school and for the community. The talk show guests on KDCE agreed it will be a source of pride for students “who will buy into it” as Sundevil Stadium will be on par with Escalante’s “Lobo” stadium, Questa’s, and other state-of-the-art facilities in the state.
The end zone will be red and gold with “Espanola Valley” in one end zone and “Sundevils” on the end other end zone with the midfield sporting the Sundevil mascot according to what KDCE’s longtime color commentator, Rudy Sisneros, told Valley Daily Post Sports who was contacted the same day the radio show aired.
The track currently has a rubberized asphalt surface. That will be removed and replaced with a modern rubberized material that is widely used for tracks in newly built stadiums. And, the running lanes will increase from a six to eight lane track, also more in line with modern tracks. Maintenance of the track and field will go down considerably and water usage will plummet according to Cordova. .
The bleachers at Sundevil Stadium “have been there since the complex was built” according to Espanola Public Schools Director, Adan Cordova. The football stadium was built in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The bleachers currently in use “have some safety issues” added Cordova. Newer bleachers have more handrails and other fan safety features that are not there now. A new press box, that will separate the different public address and broadcasting spaces will improve greatly and make it more professional.
An early bid by a bleacher company came in too high according to Cordova. Another company bid considerably less and won the bleacher contract Cordova told KDCE. “We try to keep the costs low for the taxpayers,” Cordova said. The new bid for bleachers will save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, he added.
The stadium lights will remain for now but are on the list to replace in the 2nd Phase of the project. Cordova said one pole has shifted and “there is a shadow” created on the field but they’ll get to that soon.
Cordova said “it will help the kids and help the community,” he said. The community will “be proud of this facility,” he added.