Saddleback athletics stadium has plans for a makeover

Saddleback College has recently announced that they will completely renovating the stadium. In his “Annual Stare of the College: A Great College to Work For” Saddleback College President Tod Burnett mentions this new design.

“Design of our new athletic stadium and sports complex was completed in May 2016, with construction scheduled to begin in late spring or early summer 2017,” Burnett said.

The Saddleback stadium was original built in 1969 and has not had much work done sense; because of this, the stadium press box and grandstands do not meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. Vice Chancellor Debra Fitzsimons addressed the price difference in order to keep up the stadium with modern times. The original total progress cost for the campaign was $10 million when it was first introduced in 2013. When Fitzsimons reintroduced the renovation project on July 27, 2016, the estimated price had increased to an estimated $49 million for the stadium alone.

Unfortunately, the original budget for the renovation was only $39.525 million.

In order to keep the cost down to $49 million, Fitzsimons has suggested that the stadium be the only thing to be renovated. Other factors such as the Main Quad, CMU Site Wall, and parking lot will be postponed and available to be worked on separately in the future.

“The college and district discussed strategies to address the shortfall beyond removing those components of the site development project that were already removed,” said Fitzsimons in her presentation to the board.

The proposed ideas include 8,000 new seats, a nine-lane running track, new concession stand, storage facilities for sports equipment, new turf field, new scoreboard, and many other features.

College athletic staff stressed that a bigger stadium would raise awareness of the school in the community as well as qualifies Saddleback College as a location to host athletic competitions and other community events.

Being a stadium that is used for other schools, some feel that Saddleback’s current stadium sets off a bad precedent in its current state. Seeing as how the current stadium only seats 4,500 people and Saddleback has over 20,000 students, many big sporting events requires attendees to sit on the hillside once the grandstands fill up.

Chairs and makeshift seats are currently scattered throughout the dirt hills to accommodate those who wish to sit when all of the stadium seats are full.

There are no restrooms available to the public in the stadium, and in order to find them many of the patrons must exit the venue; this causes many problems with re-entry. Fitzsimon also stressed in her presentation that because the restrooms are not in the stadium, this could be a security risk when high schools, such as JSerra Catholic High School, use it as their home field.

After these types of events, many of the people who were attending believe that the stadium represents the college and not in the best of ways. Many people leaving are unhappy, with the overly crowded bathrooms and the tight fitting seating overweighing the enjoyment from whatever event they are there to enjoy. This causes people to create a negative connotation of Saddleback College, which is something that people like Burnett are hoping will dissipate when the plans are officially complete.

With these new renovations, staff and students are hoping that the updated stadium will create a more welcoming environment as well as show others that Saddleback is a modern and up-to-date college that has a lot to provide students who have a focus in sports.

PCL Construction announced on Oct. 7 that they are partnered with Saddleback College in order to make this athletic stadium possible.

While it is not announced in any of the Saddleback budgets, PCL Construction claims that they will “add a new surface parking lot” to create convenience for those in attendance.

Much of the staff agrees that the stadium renovation is long overdue. After years of consistent whispers from previous board meetings starting back in 2007, even students are happy to see some breakthroughs.

“While I don’t play any of the sports at Saddleback, I think it’s great that they are finally revamping the athletic stadium,” said Justin McGuire, 20, undecided major. “It has been a long time coming and it will be nice for it to actually have things that are convient for the athletes and those attending.”

Burnett released that the renovation should be completed by 2018.