Major upgrades could be in store for the baseball field at Dubuque Senior High School.
Dubuque Community School Board members recently discussed potential scenarios for improving the school’s baseball field. Options range from installing a rotated ball diamond with upgraded amenities to creating a new district baseball and softball complex.
“Our citizens have shown us time and time again, when we invest in our facilities, they come out in droves to use our facilities,” school Board Member Tom Barton said.
During a recent meeting of the board’s facilities/support services committee, Ken Johnson, project director for Straka Johnson Architects, said the current orientation of the field is such that pitchers often find themselves looking into the setting sun. That issue would be solved by rotating the baseball diamond.
Architect staff also met with school officials to look at what they feel are strengths and weaknesses of the current baseball field.
“The field simply needs to be rotated,” Johnson said. “It was discussed that we feel lighting would be ideal. And then it simply needs some (Americans with Disabilities Act) improvements. A concession building would be handy.”
Johnson gave board members multiple scenarios they could consider to improve the field.
The first option would be a rotated, grass field with a concessions and restroom building, a press box, field lighting, relocated bleachers and other amenities. That project could cost close to $1.3 million.
Another option would include similar field and amenity upgrades, but would use artificial turf instead of grass. That option would cost a little more than $2 million.
Board members could also consider building a separate district baseball and softball complex at a to-be-determined location, Johnson said. That would cost close to $1.7 million per field with grass and $2.4 million per field with artificial turf.
Barton asked how much it would cost to also add lights and artificial turf to the Senior softball field and the baseball and softball fields at Hempstead High School.
“That Hempstead softball field is awful,” Barton said. “If it rains, if it sprinkles, you have a catastrophe.”
Johnson said both lights and turf would cost about $1 million per field.
Superintendent Stan Rheingans also said leaders at Clarke University could be interested in collaborating with the district on a baseball field project, depending on what kind of facility district leaders select.
Clarke Athletic Director Curt Long said after the meeting that he is “very interested” in the district’s conversations about baseball field improvements.
“I think at this point, that’s really where we’re at, listening and seeing what they’re going to put together for plans,” Long said. “There’s no question that we would have interest in continuing our partnership with them.”
Board Member Lisa Wittman said she appreciated the option of keeping Senior’s baseball field at the school but also adding turf to the improved field.
“The concessions, the bathrooms, can be shared with the tennis courts,” she said. “I’m all for the lights and the turf and keeping it on our property.”
A pair of parents also addressed board members during the meeting, encouraging them to improve fields at both high schools and to include both baseball and softball in any upgrades.
“I think it’s overdue,” Ben Roush said. “I think we should do it at both schools, especially if we can’t do a central campus or a central field.”
Rheingans said district leaders will continue to research the different options and examine costs.
However, district officials will not be able to move forward with any of those options unless voters approve a new revenue purpose statement outlining how the district plans to use money from the state’s 1-cent sales tax. Officials are eyeing the Nov. 5 election to bring the issue before voters.
“We just want to be prepared that in November, when we successfully pass the revenue purpose statement, we can move forward relatively quickly,” Rheingans said.