SOCCCD Board of Trustees puts football stadium as its top priority

A motion to move construction for a new football stadium up the priority list was passed unanimously by the South Orange County Community College District Trustees at last month’s meeting on Feb. 24.

However, the proposed $25.5 million renovation has run into problems with funding.

At the meeting, Dr. Tod Burnett, President of Saddleback College, said that only $500,000 has been set aside so far and Jennie McCue, Director of Public Information and Marketing, said that there could be problems with state funding.

However, these issues will be addressed as soon as a date for construction is assigned, said Tere Fluegeman, District Director for SOCCCD.

“The priority for the stadium was revised during the last Board of Trustees meeting,” Fluegeman said. “This step will permit the Capital Improvement Committee to consider funding requests for this project and make recommendations to the Basic Aid Allocation Resource Committee. A funding recommendation is the first step toward beginning the planning process. Project dates are established after funding is assigned.”

The proposal plans to replace the current grass field with a new, artificial turf. Photo by Matt Corkill

The proposal plans to replace the current grass field with a new, artificial turf. Photo by Matt Corkill

The five-year project has taken precedence over other items, such as the planned renovation of the Science and Math Building. Despite this, many Saddleback alumni voiced their support for the project at last month’s Board of Trustees meeting.

The proposal promises to increase the stadium capacity from 3,000 to 10,000 and put in a new artificial turf to replace the grass field. The project also includes a new nine-lane track, state-of-the-art sound system and a new scoreboard.

This would address many of the current concerns with the stadium, according to Tony Lipold, Dean of Athletics and Kinesiology.

“There are no restroom facilities within the venue,” Lipold said. “Fans have to leave the stadium and use the PE restrooms, which are not built to handle the traffic of a football game that may have several thousand in attendance.”

Lipold also said that the project would make the stadium more accessible and comfortable for spectators.

“The handicapped access is basically nonexistent to either the home or the visitor side bleachers,” Lipold said. “The concession stand is a portable building, which is not adequate. The bleachers on the home side are the original and outdated and the bleachers on the visitor’s side are rented at the cost of $29,000 per year.”

Lipold also stressed the fact that the new project would allieviate some of the Athletics Department’s storage concerns. “There is little or no storage for football, track and field, and soccer.”

The Board also discussed possible naming rights to cover the cost of construction, but the date the project will actually break ground is unknown.