Cuero, Refugio resurfacing fields for upcoming season
July 3, 2013 at 2:03 a.m.
Updated July 4, 2013 at 2:04 a.m.
A Change of Scenery
Improvements: Eight-lane track, video on scoreboard, new grass on practice field
Estimated cost: $1.9 million
Source of funds: School district fund balance
Projected completion date: Aug. 20
Improvements: Resurface track
Estimated cost: $800,000-plus
Source of funds: Community donations and school district funds
Projected completion date: Aug. 1
Travis Reeve looked at a lot of studies and examined all kinds of data when the Cuero school district considered installing artificial turf at Gobbler Stadium.
But one set of numbers stood out to the Cuero athletic director and head football coach.
The grass field could be used from 50 to 75 hours a year. Installing a turf field would increase the usage to more than 15,000 hours a year.
"People in Cuero have always had great facilities," Reeve said. "From time to time, you've got to update those facilities, and it was time to do just that."
Refugio athletic director and head football coach Jason Herring had a similar view about Jack Sportsman Bobcat Stadium.
Maintaining the grass field was a continuous problem and had gotten to the point where the school district was trucking in new sod every season from as far away as North Carolina.
"The middle of our field. We cannot keep grass alive," Herring said. "It wasn't a want. It was a definite need. We just haven't been able to come up with the money because it was a lot of money for the school district."
The two school districts board of trustees agreed and approved installing artificial turf fields at their May meetings.
Construction began on both fields in June.
The Cuero resurfacing includes a new eight-lane track, adding video to the scoreboard, and putting in new grass on the practice field.
The scheduled completion date is Aug. 20, and the cost is $1.9 million.
The project is being paid for out of the district's fund balance, which recently was used to provide students with iPads.
"Eagle Ford Shale has made an impact on our district," Reeve said. "Our district has done a good job of putting money into our fund balance over the years and that's actually how we're paying for this project."
Herring approached the Refugio board of trustees in January about raising money toward resurfacing the field.
"I just decided I'd take the bull by the horns," he said. "We're going to be looking up 30 years later and I'm going to be long gone and we're still going to be spending $40,000 a year just to re-sod."
Herring put up $1,000 and with considerable help from Refugio County Judge Rene Mascorro, a former Bobcat, pled his case to the community and was able to raise in excess of $500,000.
The school district agreed to make up the difference for a project expected to cost in excess of $800,000.
Refugio is installing an AstroTurf field and a new surface for the track with a scheduled completion date of Aug. 1.
"I don't think anybody in the room thought it would happen in four months," Herring said. "We put together a presentation and sold the idea. We got help from oil companies, local businesses and individuals.
"That's what's so special about small communities," he added. "It was really a grassroots fundraising. It was tons and tons of people making good donations."
Reeve and Herring were mindful of the tradition of the two fields.
Bobcat Stadium was built on land donated by Quintana Petroleum Corporation in 1954. Cuero moved into Gobbler Stadium in 1968 when bleachers were brought in from Wharton County Junior College.
"I talked to a guy who was a freshman in 1968 when they moved from the old Hunt field to Gobbler Stadium," Reeve said. "It's kind of the same sentiment. It's kind of a bittersweet thing. I think when it's done and our kids get on it, it will be a great source of pride for our community."
Another concern for the school districts and coaches was safety.
"Our field was hard and it was unsafe," Herring said. "Concussions are such a big deal. It was like playing on a sandlot. It was like playing on a packed hard-pan playground that's been trampled because we had no grass cushion to fall."
Neither Cuero nor Refugio hosted many playoff games at the stadiums in the past few years, and both expect that to change.
But the school districts are primarily looking forward to giving members of their communities the opportunity to use the field.
"One of the benefits is we're going to host playoff games," Herring said. "But that's gravy, guy.
"The best part is so many people here are going to be able to use the field. You've got Pee Wee football, band, track and so many others. This is something that's good for the whole community."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or email@example.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.