Arroyo Grande and Nipomo high schools are getting million-dollar stadium upgrades

Nipomo and Arroyo Grande high schools are getting new stadiums

Nipomo and Arroyo Grande high schools are getting new stadium upgrades next year that will transform the aging fields.
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Nipomo and Arroyo Grande high schools are getting new stadium upgrades next year that will transform the aging fields.

Arroyo Grande and Nipomo high school students and parents will have brand-new stadiums to enjoy come graduation season.

The Lucia Mar Unified School District recently confirmed plans to upgrade both high schools’ football stadiums to improve safety and the look of the aging facilities.

“It’s been a long time in the making,” district Superintendent Andy Stenson said. “Especially for Arroyo Grande High School. That’s obviously a much older high school than Nipomo High School, and it’s showing it.”

Arroyo Grande High School was built in 1953, and Nipomo High School in 2002. Arroyo Grande High underwent a $21.4 million facelift in 2005, thanks to Measure A-04.

Stenson noted that both stadiums need new bleachers because the old ones are no longer compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

“The bleachers themselves are reaching a point where they are going to be unsafe pretty soon, so we need to step on the gas for this,” Stenson said.

The stadiums will receive mostly identical upgrades, with some minor differences.

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In Arroyo Grande, the visitor-side bleachers will be replaced with new grandstands that can accommodate 1,244 people. The existing press box, where coaches and media sit and film the games, will be removed from the visitor side; a new one will be installed behind the current home side.

The stadium also get a new concession and restroom building, and all-weather surfacing at both ends of the field.

Arroyo Grande High athletic director Stephen Field said the new stadium is an exciting opportunity for the school.

“As you can see from the pictures and what not, this, you know, it’s dated,” Field said. “We’ve taken pride in doing well with what we have for a really long time, but we are really excited. Everyone is really excited to get some improvements around here.”

The Nipomo High stadium will also get all-weather surfacing at both ends of the field, plus a new restroom building, ticketing building and plaza area with benches and paving.

The stadium’s home side will move to the existing visitor side. Those stands will be replaced with new bleachers that can accommodate 1,541 people and a press box with rooftop filming platform.

The tracks for both stadiums will be upgraded from decomposed granite to nine-lane all-weather tracks with safety lanes on the outside, and painted in school colors.

“Most schools in California do have all-weather tracks,” Stenson said. “We are some of the few remaining that do not.”

Stenson said the new track will allow the schools to host California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) track events. The state governing body for athletics doesn’t recognize times on decomposed granite tracks, which has meant both schools are unable to host CIF track meets.

The tracks will additionally be open to middle school and even elementary school track meets, he said.

Stenson said the new tracks will also benefit local runners who would want to utilize them after school hours.

“Let’s be honest — when we build new classrooms it benefits the community in that we serve them, but they don’t really come into the classrooms on any given day,” he said. “But stadiums, people will be able to use these in the after hours. ... It’s a benefit to the entire community.”

A look at action from the preliminaries of the CIF State Track and Field Championships held in Clovis on Friday.

The price tag isn’t yet decided for either project — that won’t happen until they go out to bid in January — but so far the district estimates the projects will cost more than $1 million a piece: the bleachers, press boxes, new track and design alone add up to $1.8 million in Arroyo Grande and $1.7 million in Nipomo. That’s without the additional cost of the new buildings and any other associated improvements.

The upgrades will be paid for through Lucia Mar’s Measure I bonds, which voters approved in 2016.

To date, Stenson said, the district has used about $42 million of the $170 million it is authorized to spend on local school improvements, including new classrooms and furniture at its elementary and middle schools, and expanded technical classrooms at both high schools.

In the second phase of the bond measure, which the school district is rolling out in 2018, Arroyo Grande High is slated to receive roughly $10.5 million in improvements, including the stadium, new classrooms and an auxiliary gym. Nipomo High will get the new stadium, classrooms and special furniture to the tune of $3.9 million.

If everything goes as planned, Stenson said the stadium work will be underway in early 2019, and completed just in time for graduation season.

“If the stars align, we are hopeful the project would be completed in June, ideally before graduation ceremonies,” he said. “We are very hopeful we can meet the deadlines we’ve set for ourselves and see it come to fruition.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

Ely-Jah and Ely-az Pu'a explain the meaning behind the haka performed by the Nipomo High School football team before each game.

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