JUCO chairman looking for cash to make alterations at stadium

City official Bruce Hill, left, and Jamie Hamilton, JUCO chairman, are shown at Suplizio Field in 2006. Hamilton asked the city Monday for financial help to update the stadium.

Suplizio Field could have a new look for the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series in 2012.

Remodeling the concessions area, dugouts, seating and press box are all part of a $9 million plan the JUCO committee suggested in January to the National Junior College Athletic Association. JUCO Chairman Jamie Hamilton said taking off a few frills could dip the price to $8.3 million.

A plan that included $700,000 worth of turf installation at the field would have cost $16 million to $18 million in February 2008. That figure put the brakes on the project. But in the past 60 days, Hamilton said he received the $9 million quote for a project without turf and figured now might be the time to buy.

Hamilton pitched the idea to Grand Junction City Council members Monday at an afternoon council workshop. He said the JUCO committee could afford about $4 million in bonds, according to historical cash flow. But he needs help with the remaining amount.

Hamilton said he’s surveying Mesa State College, School District 51, Mesa County and the city to see who’s willing to offer financial support to get the project going. Since the project would take about a year, Hamilton said he’d like construction to begin immediately after next year’s JUCO tournament.

“No one wants to commit to going forward,” Hamilton told the council. “Everyone supports it, but I don’t know if they’ll write a check.”

Councilman Gregg Palmer said it may be the city’s responsibility as the owner of Lincoln Park, where Suplizio Field is located, to make that first step of support. But he would prefer other entities follow the city’s lead.

“I’d love to pursue options with more partners,” he said.

Councilman Sam Susuras said he also supports the idea of remodeling the field, but isn’t sure how to fund the project.

“It’s very easy to say I support the project, but with what?” he said.

After Monday’s workshop and no objections from council members about exploring the idea of helping fund the project, city staff will look into ways the city could afford to help, according to Councilman Bruce Hill. Staff suggestions would then be presented to the council, and a vote may be taken on going forward with city financial aid for the project.

The proposed remodel of Suplizio Field includes placing seat backs on benches in the fan seating area, fixing up dugouts and the concessions area, and putting a hospitality area between the fan seating and the press box. The new press box would be higher in the air than before and have an elevator and restrooms and look out over both Suplizio Field and Stocker Stadium.

Hamilton said a memorandum of understanding with NJCAA states the association would enter into a 25-year contract to manage, promote and administer JUCO in Grand Junction if the project is completed.

Otherwise, the contract will be for three years, he said.


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