The last time Refugio coach Jason Herring’s team played at Victoria ISD’s Memorial Stadium was in 2011.
Even then, he said, it was getting old. The current turf was installed in 2008.
“Those things only last seven to nine years,” Herring said. “The sun just eats them up.”
Although the location would be an ideal spot for many playoff game matchups, Herring said he wouldn’t let his team on Memorial Stadium’s field in its current state.
Not a single playoff game was hosted at Memorial Stadium during the 2018 football season.
For the past two years, Herring said he has taken his team to San Antonio to play against Shiner.
That may change if a VISD contract with Frost Bank is approved at the VISD school board meeting Thursday night. Under the proposed agreement, the bank would pay the district $600,000 for the field to receive a new turf and for the right to name it Frost Bank Field.
The terms of the 12-year contract also would allow the bank to place its logo on the field and receive rights to post additional signage throughout the stadium.
VISD spokeswoman Shawna Currie said the negotiations for the contract began a couple of months ago.
“If the contract is approved (Thursday), the plan would be to start the project probably next month in December and have it completed by early 2020 in time for soccer season,” Currie said.
A field upgrade was last proposed in 2017. But, in November of that year, voters rejected a $141.2 million Victoria school district bond proposal that would have constructed a new, multi-activity complex, in addition to replacing four schools and renovating 17 others.
The complex would have included a new football stadium with an eight-lane competition track, baseball and softball stadiums, a fieldhouse, a practice field, a walking trail, an updated ROTC building and resurfaced tennis courts for a cost of $35 million.
In lieu of a new stadium, VISD athletic director Bobby Jack Wright said the new turf would be a boon to his team.
“It’s something that improves the stadium and improves the playing surface for our kids here at VISD,” Wright said. “No question about it: this is its last year of any kind of real use.”
Wright said the proposed turf is similar to what’s being used at the NRG Stadium in Houston, and that it will look and feel like grass. Although Wright said he couldn’t put an exact dollar amount on Frost Bank’s donation, he said most turfs cost about $600,000.
“It’s the latest, state-of-the-art artificial surface,” Wright said. “We want to try to provide our kids with the best resources out there, and, as athletic director for VISD, I’m extremely grateful to Frost Bank for investing in the young people of the Victoria Independent School District.”
Robert Crawford, Frost’s market president in Victoria, said he’s excited for the institution to be part of Victoria and to give back to the community.
Frost opened Victoria Financial Center at 7602 N. Navarro St. in October but has had a presence in Victoria since 1999, when it opened Frost Insurance.
“We don’t just want to be a financial institution and a big, cold bank that is coming into town,” Crawford said. “We feel that this could be an opportunity to help make people’s lives better.”
Crawford credits the idea for the contribution to Wright, who he said reached out to the bank when they built the new Victoria branch.
“Bobby Jack has had a relationship with Pat Frost going back many years,” Crawford said.
Cuero coach Travis Reeve said the biggest advantages of the new turf would go to VISD students.
“A lot of coaches in the area have concerns about it,” Reeve said. “The fact that it’s going to be re-turfed is going to serve the students of Victoria, No. 1. They deserve to have a playing field that’s equal to what other teams in the area have.”
However, the new turf won’t address other issues coaches have with the stadium, like minimal locker room space.
“The locker room space there is not very big, especially for a larger team,” Reeve said.
Nevertheless, Herring said the stadium’s capacity, which is 9,500 people, would make it a huge destination for the playoffs.
“There’s no question they would draw tons and tons more playoff games,” Herring said. “That would be a benefit to VISD because it could charge to rent the stadium, and it would benefit the community because it would draw people out to restaurants.”