Plans moving ahead for the new athletics stadium

Big plans are in store for Saddleback College’s stadium

The current state of the football stadium is somewhat tragic, something the new Proposed Stadium plans to rectify (Lariat staff/File Photo)

The current state of the football stadium is somewhat tragic, something the new Proposed Stadium plans to rectify (Lariat staff/File Photo)

Built in the ‘60s, the stadium is to be completely reconstructed. If planning continues on schedule, the project will begin around Saddleback’s 50th anniversary completed in 2018, according to the Saddleback website.

Backers of the new stadium hope to make the new venue a central hub for community sporting events.

“The purpose of it is that it’s a community stadium so that we can have community events there. Championship events. We can have high school championships’ football games there. Bring in the community,” said Assistant Athletics Director Jerry Hannula. “There are schools in our community, or south Orange County, that use our facilities. Now we’re trying to make it the [main] facility of south Orange County so we can host different events … there’s no stadium like this anywhere down here.”

Hannula said a new stadium will create a new space for sporting events of all kinds.

“Behind it is another project, which will be the soccer fields, the football practice fields and the rest of the track facilities,” Hannula said. “So it will be encompassing all those sports.”

Though most of the current students won’t be attending Saddleback by the project’s completion, the football players are aware of the news.

“I know this has been in the works for a while and our coach has been pushing to get this,” said Alexander Coplan, 20, pre-law, a wide receiver for the 2015 Saddleback Gauchos football team. “Anytime you get something new, like a new stadium… the team rallies around it.”

According to the current plans, the new stadium will benefit sports beyond football. An additional lane is to be added to the current eight-lane track, regulation soccer and lacrosse fields, and adjacent practice facilities.

The bleachers will have 8,000 seats, roughly double the seats the current facility accommodates. The new bleachers will be some of the largest in south Orange County. Other additions and renovations in the works are “restrooms, concessions stands, lighting, [and] field turf,” said Hannula. The current stadium has no easily accessible bathrooms or concession stands. The goal is these additions will help draw people.

Current estimates state that the stadium should cost between $40 and $50 million dollars, according to a report published last month by the Orange County Register. Deconstruction of the current fields will hopefully begin sometime in 2016, though there is still no official date for the project’s beginning.

For a non-athletics student like John Pentony, 20, business and economics, the new project seems underwhelming.

“From what I’ve seen [the current stadium] is not that bad of a stadium. 50 million over the course of four years could really go a long way for the students—a stadium isn’t really that big of a deal,” he said. “I don’t know much about it, but I just think there’s better things they could spend the money on.”

But for Hannula, the stadium offers a world of possibilities.

“We haven’t gone there. To see what it can be rented out for, what it can be used for. We don’t know,” he said. “We haven’t been down that road before, to see what it could be used for. We’ll see!”