Board trustees with the Bishop Consolidated Independent School District received a first-hand look at the district’s new sports complex during a special meeting Monday evening.
While there is still plenty to be done before the project is complete, the project’s contractors said the baseball and softball fields will be ready for use by the players and coaches as early as this weekend.
The new Bishop Badger Sports Complex was financed along with other projects and capital improvements to the Bishop and Petronila campuses through a $15.2 million bond approved by voters in 2018.
Construction on the $4.3 million sports complex began in January 2019 and is currently in its final phase. Bishop CISD had previously been in a 25-year contract with the City of Bishop to use the city-owned baseball and softball fields located at the city park.
The new complex is about 9 acres and includes a baseball field with centerfield at 400 yards and right and left fields at 330 yards, and a softball field with centerfield at 210 yards and right and left fields at 200 yards.
Attending Monday’s meeting was Tommy Canule, Albert Cardenas and Tony Vargas with Davila Construction, which serves as the contractor for the sports complex, and Rolando Garza with the architectural firm Gignac and Associates LLP.
Along with board trustees, attending from Bishop CISD were Superintendent Christina Gutierrez, Assistant Superintendent Eden Hernandez, Athletic Director George Luna, Finance Director Manuel Tamez, Maintenance Director Charlie Farek and Bishop High School Principal Andi Kuyatt.
Prior to the site visit, Cardenas addressed the board about construction delays that occurred during the past year because of bad weather conditions.
“But even all that said, we’re not making excuses,” he said. “We’re here to finish. We’re at the one-yard line and we’re going to punch it in.”
The board meeting then reconvened at the sports complex, with trustees touring both the baseball and softball fields as well as the concession stand, restrooms, bleachers, dugouts, press boxes, batting cages and bullpens.
Board President Marc Morales said the new fields are “night and day” from the city-owned fields.
“Standing here, it doesn’t feel real,” Morales said. “It feels like we’re standing on a professional field here versus when we grew up playing on the other field. We’re very excited for the kids.”
Morales said his main concern is with the fields’ grass, which he said was “still bumpy in some areas.”
“But they have professionals here that will take care of that,” he said. “Everything that I’ve seen so far is good, and I haven’t seen much else that needs to be improved.”
Luna said he is excited to have his student athletes begin utilizing the new baseball and softball fields.
Luna said other school districts are also looking forward to the new sports complex.
“(Bishop) is right in the middle of everybody,” he said. “That’s why we’re always renting out our gyms, because when San Antonio and the (Rio Grande) Valley meet up, they can do it here with our great facilities.
“And now with baseball and softball, we are definitely in the mix and then some. Everything here is top of the line and state-of-the-art.”
One added $270,000 expense for the new complex was the addition of canopies over spectator bleachers, but Morales said he saw it as a necessity.
“We wanted our community to be comfortable,” he said. “So the canopies were an extra expense, but it’s well worth it.”
Canule said for a district the size of Bishop Consolidated, there are no other fields like it in the area.
“It’s a gem,” he said. “There’s nothing like this between here and the Valley.”
Canule said if all goes well, both the baseball and softball fields could be ready for use as early as Friday night.
“All of our big work is in the tidying up outside the fields,” he said. “Inside the fields, it’s our primary subcontractor making them playable.”
Morales said with rain in the forecast for this week, he felt that the fields being ready for weekend practice was “a little optimistic.”
“But we’ll see what happens,” he said. “I’m hoping they’re right, though.”
Regardless, Gutierrez said the sports complex will be ready in time for a scheduled baseball tournament that will take place on Feb. 27.
“That’ll be a big tournament,” she said. “ The biggest we’ve ever had with 12 to 16 teams. It’s going to use this field, the city park field and H.M. King’s field.”