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Calhoun stadium to receive $5 million facelift

Keldy  Ortiz

By Keldy Ortiz
March 2, 2014 at 8:03 p.m.
Updated March 1, 2014 at 9:02 p.m.

Amanda Garza, left, of Houston, and her cousin Amber Garcia, of Port Lavaca, run the track at Sandcrab Stadium on Friday. "It's been like this for a long time and the town is growing, so we need a bigger stadium," Garcia, a 2011 Calhoun graduate, said of the upgrades coming to the stadium.

PORT LAVACA - Holes made by cleats after a football game at Sandcrab Stadium are part of the job Jerry Aleman is tasked with.

On Thursdays during the fall, Aleman and his coworkers arrive at the stadium to prepare it for upcoming football games.

"If it doesn't rain," Aleman said, which happened once in the fall. "It all depends on the weather."

Come next fall, work on the field will be limited, as artificial turf will be installed this spring. A date to install the turf has not been set.

With the turf comes other installations, including a new scoreboard and an expansion of seating capacity to 8,500, which is 2,500 more than the current 6,000 seats.

The price tag for the renovations is $5 million. The money will come from a $65 million bond passed in November.

"Looking at ours, the structure itself is very sound, but overall the entire facility needs a facelift," said Billy Wiggins, Calhoun County ISD Superintendent. "That entire $65 million bond issue will impact our entire district - every facility in it."

A new middle school will be built with the funds from the bond, and upgrades at other schools will be done as well.

The second gym at Calhoun, where the volleyball and basketball games of the underclassmen are played, will have its floor redone and air conditioners installed.

Wiggins said not everyone agreed with passing the bond, which allowed the stadium and other facilities to get a makeover.

"It was inevitable that we had to spend the money and take care of our buildings," Wiggins said. "It was a big emphasis in the fact that we wanted to make it be useful."

Calhoun athletic director and head football coach Richard Whitaker was told by architects that the stadium should be ready by the start of August.

Another change in store for Calhoun is a varsity soccer team for the 2014-15 school year, which will play in the new, multipurpose stadium.

Whitaker said a spring football game will take place on the practice field if the stadium is being worked on.

The decision to install turf in the stadium was one Whitaker believed was coming. In 2010, when Calhoun hosted a home game against Cuero, the field was damaged by rain.

"For the rest of the season, the field was not in good shape," Whitaker said. "One of the first things people see when they drive down (State Highway) 35 - the first opinion of Calhoun ISD - is that football stadium because they drive by it. What we're doing to the stadium, and the outcome of it, is going to be beautiful."

The decision to renovate the stadium, which was built in 1953, was made because of safety. Wiggins wanted to upgrade accessibility for those who need assistance.

Also, there was the trouble with capacity. During home games, the school's band has had to sit on the track because no room has been available for them to sit in the stands.

"There's a lot of reasons you change," Whitaker said. "One of them is safety."

Aleman was glad to see improvements being made to the stadium. He said it takes six to eight people to prepare the stadium, some of whom paint the field.

"The turf is going to save a lot of man hours," Aleman said. "It's going to be a lifesaver."



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