Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
West Las Vegas High School baseball and softball players have to drive several miles from the school every day to practice and play.
And that was something superintendent Chris Gutierrez wanted to end.
That time has come, as ground is being cleared and prepped for a nearly $2 million baseball/softball complex that will be on the campus grounds.
“It’s a safety thing,” he said. “Right now, we have players piling into cars with drivers who don’t have a lot of experience and a lot can happen. For safety purposes, we want to make sure their games and practices are right here at the school.”
The new complex will include fields made of synthetic turf for both the infield and outfield, home and away indoor locker rooms, concession stands with permanent bathrooms and an elevated press box topped by an exterior video platform.
The locker rooms will be attached to the dugouts so the players can change before hitting the field, Gutierrez said, as well as have lockers to store their personal items while on the field.
“For the kids to be dressing in the bus, especially the females, they need a place to walk into to be able to dress and a place to lock up their things so they are safe within the locker room,” he said.
The new complex at both fields also will include outdoor batting cages that will serve as a warm-up area for pitchers getting ready to come into the game, as well indoor cages for use during inclement weather.
Phase I of the project, which called for removing the trees and an existing structure has already been completed, Gutierrez said.
“Now we’re doing the ground work on the road that goes over the Parajito Creek … and a pedestrian bridge,” he said. “Everybody will have to park at the middle school gym. For safety purposes, we want people to be in the stands watching the game, not in their car. We want them to be out cheering on their family and friends from the stands.”
The hope is that, shortly after Thanksgiving, the structural plans will be back from the architect and that work will get started right after Christmas break is completed, Gutierrez said.
If the weather cooperates, he said, the goal is to have the complex completed by the end of May or early June. And if that’s the case – and if the NMAA is allowed to play prep sports come 2021 – this year’s seniors will get the chance to break in the new complex.
“The best time to do this work is right now,” Gutierrez said.
The money, which comes from a bond passed four years ago, is also going to refurbish the basketball locker rooms within Gillie Lopez Gymnasium.
“Nothing’s been done with it in the past 44 years,” Gutierrez said.
The locker rooms and showers are in the process of being retiled, everything is getting a gleaming coat of green and gold paint, and all the benches will be been sanded and refinished.
The school district is looking at another $7.5 million bond in February – which would not raise taxes – to do additional work to the athletic facilities.
Gutierrez said he would like to see 25 feet added on either side of the gym and, if possible, the ceiling raised enough to allow a second level of bleachers, as well as coaches offices.
The bond also would include money for a new weight room, exercise area and Zumba-style studio to be built in an open spot between the high school gym and cafeteria, he said.