Teams can begin play April 20 at Suplizio Field
Baseball players from one end of the valley to the other were smiling Wednesday.
With the renovations at the Lincoln Park Sports Complex nearly a month ahead of schedule, the four School District 51 varsity teams and Colorado Mesa University got the go-ahead to play ball at Suplizio Field starting April 20.
“More than me, the players, especially the seniors (are excited),” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “The new players who we said, ‘Look at the stadium you get to play in,’ and they haven’t gotten to yet.
“Canyon View has been great and the grounds crew out there has done a wonderful job with the field and how it’s played. Canyon View is better than any field in our conference, not including Suplizio. We’re fortunate to have a city that takes such good care of the facilities.”
All of the high schools and Mesa have been playing at Canyon View Park this season, with some of the varsity games played at high school fields.
The Mavericks play Metro State at 6:30 p.m. on April 20 in their annual Game of Hope, a benefit for the American Cancer Society. It will be the first chance for fans see the $8.3 million project.
Mesa plays a four-game series against the Roadrunners that weekend at Suplizio, and is back the following week against rival CSU-Pueblo.
April 27 is the Mavs’ Record Attendance Night, starting at 6:30 p.m., and Hanks hopes the new amenities will help Mesa reclaim the NCAA Division II single-game attendance record from Pueblo.
The hope was to finish the project in time for the seniors to play at Suplizio at least once.
“Our seniors, especially, realize how special it is to play there,” Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said. “We are very spoiled here to play on two great fields. The kids grow up watching JUCO games and grow up wanting to play on that stage.
“A lot of our seniors have never played there. Some of them as juniors didn’t play (varsity), so we have quite a number of them that have never played on that field.”
At 6 p.m. on May 1, Fruita Monument faces Grand Junction, with the Tigers playing Central at 6 p.m. on May 3. Palisade’s doubleheader against Steamboat Springs on May 5 begins at 11 a.m. at Suplizio.
At Wednesday’s JUCO Committee meeting, tournament chairman Jamie Hamilton said he was happy the seniors will be able to play at Suplizio.
He’s just as happy Mesa and the high schools will be first up “so they can work the bugs out.”
“We’re thrilled at the opportunity to show it off,” District 51 Athletic Director Paul Cain said. “We don’t want to take the thunder away from JUCO, they’re the main event and behind all this, but it’s going to be neat to have our kids experience it.”
Rob Schoeber, the director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said workers are down to a list of finishing touches and installing the elevator and kitchen equipment before the final inspections.
Some of the inspections could be next week, but more likely the week of April 16, before the city is issued a certificate of occupancy.
“I don’t think any of us expected to be finished this far ahead of schedule,” Schoeber said. “It’s a real bonus to get in and not only get the kids on the field for some games, but so we can test some of the systems prior to the huge event.”
Schoeber credited FCI Constructors Inc., plus the mild winter, for the early completion.
“I told Bruce (Hill, the JUCO vice chairman) the other day that Mother Nature must have JUCO tickets,” Schoeber said, “because every time they needed a window of great weather, they got it.”