“Whatever [7.5 million dollars] can buy is what we’ll get,” said varsity football coach Wally Grant.
As of now, this facility will contain a full turf field, all-weather track, lights, and bleachers. According to D’Agostino, the stadium is not expected to have a field house or concession booth, but will contain the necessary plumbing and grading to add one if we wish.
“The district has always been committed to [improving] facilities,” D’Agostino said.
The money came from California Redevelopment agencies, which collected developer’s fees from real estate projects before the recession hit. After the housing market plummeted, Sacramento decided to dissolve the CRAs and borrow their funds to keep the state running. Since the economy is now taking a turn for the better, the state government has been returning this funding to help public schools. A package of approximately $25.5 million reached NMUSD; $10 million went to improve Newport Harbor’s stadium, $7.5 million to Corona del Mar’s stadium, $1 million to Estancia’s pool, and the remaining $7.5 million to Mesa.
According to D’Agostino, $15,000 was spent on transportation costs alone in the past year, calling the stadium a “significant investment.” The cost of maintaining the natural grass on the track currently is also quite high, with watering, mowing, and yard line marking needing to be done constantly. With a new stadium on Mesa’s campus with artificial turf, these costs will be cut down significantly.
“It’s not just a “football” stadium,” said Coach Grant. “This stadium benefits all.” Grant remarks that this stadium will be especially beneficial to the elementary and middle school students who play club football on the weekends. “They’re going to see that these are great facilities, and we’re not going to lose kids. Mesa will have the whole package: academics, athletics, and facilities.”
The construction is projected to begin after an architect has been hired and plans drawn up, and a successful review from the Department of State Architecture. This will, however, displace the practice area for the football team, track team, PE classes, and marching band, and the game space for freshmen and JV football. For the years of construction, alternatives will need to be found, but according to Coach Grant, “The positives outweigh the negatives tremendously.”
The current freshmen class will be among the first to enjoy the new stadium. According to freshman football player and marching band member Isaiah Muniz, “I would rather have the stadium here. Estancia looks down on us as a stepbrother. And more people will come to our games and competitions!”
Others are more skeptical. According to freshman Marissa Castro, “The new stadium is too small. It’s not going to able to satisfy the band.”
Even D’Agostino remarked that the stadium might not be big enough to satisfy some of our own football games, but it’s the sense of school spirit it will bring that’s ultimately important.
“When I was drum major of my high school marching band, the cadence of our battery as we marched to our home stadium would boom through the campus and bring a sense of spirit and camaraderie to the night, “ D’Agostino reminisces. “I’m excited to experience this on our own campus, instead of shipping people out. One day, Mesa will feel this.”