Hospitality level highlights plans in Stocker Stadium, Suplizio Field upgrade
The hospitality level and pressbox are what you notice first in the Stocker Stadium/Suplizio Field stadium upgrade.
The two-story facility is impossible to miss, but the real jewels of the project are the fan amenities and the mezzanine level.
Fans entering the stadium through the new concourse will have modern restrooms and concession areas. What makes Bruce Hill and Jamie Hamilton really smile is the area for fans with disabilities.
“We have so many special-needs kids who come to these games and we truly have no space for them and their wheelchairs,” Hamilton told Grand Junction City Council members Monday. He and Hill unveiled what the stadium will look like once construction is complete.
Those special-needs kids and all fans with disabilities have limited options to watch games at the sports complex now. All that will change in 2012.
The mezzanine level is reserved for those fans, above the first-base seats on the baseball side and above the east football stands. People accompanying those with special needs will have chairs provided in the mezzanine section.
Hill, a councilman and the vice chairman of Grand Junction Baseball, Inc., which oversees the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, and Hamilton, the JUCO chairman, have been raising money through grants and donations to pay for the $8.3 million project.
The Parks Improvement Advisory Board has pledged $250,000, and another $200,000 has been secured, but “I’m not at liberty to say who yet,” Hamilton said. The Grand Junction Lions Club is in for $25,000.
“The first-base dugout will be known as ‘The Lions’ Den,’ ” Hamilton said.
Hamilton is waiting to hear on a number of grants that would help pay off the bonds that were issued.
JUCO has $1 million in reserve that can be used to pay the bonds if grants are denied, or for needs not covered in the budget: “We have a really nice hospitality area, but we have no furniture,” Hamilton told the council members.
Once construction is complete in the spring of 2012, the first-base stands will be individual seats, not bleachers. The new football stands won’t be as steep, but will be longer. The seating capacity for both stadiums will increase by about 150.
The hospitality area, on the second level, can accommodate up to 200 people for anything from service club meetings to large groups renting the space for games. Windows will run nearly floor to ceiling.
“The sight line from the hospitality level will be incredible,” Hill said, “absolutely incredible.”
An elevator will provide access to the mezzanine, press and hospitality areas.
Construction begins June 5, the day after the 2011 JUCO World Series ends, and should take 9-10 months.
Football games will be played at Stocker in the fall, even though the current stands and pressbox will be gone.
A small pressbox will be built above the west stands on the football stadium to run the scoreboard and public address system and provide required space for football coaches and statisticians while the new pressbox is being built.
“I think they’re looking at the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Rob Schoeber, the director of the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department. “It’s going to be one year of change and the outcome is fabulous.
“We’re prepared to move (baseball games) to Canyon View if necessary, but with any luck we will be playing (at Suplizio).”
With the upgrades comes a 25-year extension on the contract to keep the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, with proceeds going to pay off the bonds for the improvements.
It also puts the stadium in the running to land a minor league baseball team. Hamilton said he was approached about eight months ago by an ownership group, but the current amenities didn’t meet baseball’s requirements.
The new look of the stadium exceeds what Hamilton, Hill and Schoeber dreamed it would.
“Oh, better,” Hill said. “That looks like a university.”