PENDLETON — A full stadium is no longer in the works, but the Pendleton High School Athletic Renovation Project is still on its way to turning the practice field near the school into a multi-use sports facility after the awarding of two major grants this year.
The Community Sports Development Council presented Pendleton a synthetic turf field to install at the site, a grant worth several hundred thousand dollars. Along with a grant from the Wildhorse Foundation valued at $15,000, Pendleton High has made a dent in the more than $1 million project cost.
That’s around $400,000 for excavation and flattening the area, along with the price of lighting fixtures and their placement.
“Those are just some numbers right now but we don’t exactly know what we need until we start digging into that ground,” Christiansen said. The practice field is settled almost precariously into the rocky hillside behind the school.
It’s because of that location that the idea of a full-blown stadium was eventually abandoned, Pendleton principal Tom Lovell said. The field is ideal because of its proximity to the school and current usage as the practice field for Buckaroo football. But with a track around the outside of the playing surface — which will eventually be large enough to accommodate both football and soccer games — there won’t be much room for everything else that makes up a stadium.
Feasibility issues also started to include the price tag for a complex of that size, which would come in at two or three times the price of the current proposition.
Pendleton athletic director Troy Jerome said the school had hoped the new field would be ready by fall of 2013 with a Columbia River Conference soccer bonanza in the works to go with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. That dream has been pushed back for another season, Jerome said.
The toned-down project means Buckaroo football will still be calling the Pendleton Round-Up Grounds home for the forseeable future. Had the school been able to create a sizable alternative, varsity games would have been moved to the new facility, Christiansen said last December when the project was first gaining ground.
Instead, Pendleton football will have the option of varsity and junior varsity games playing out simultaneously on the two fields.
“It complements the Round-Up Grounds,” said Jerome, emphasizing a two-playing-surface arsenal for the Bucks.
Jerome reiterated the importance of an all-weather facility for the school’s teams, giving Pendleton soccer a true home as well. The soccer-playing Bucks currently compete near Blue Mountain Community College for home games on a field not-so affectionately referred to as “The Pit,” a lowered-ground playing surface that frequently remains soggy following any precipitation.
But for Pendleton soccer events — along with occasional baseball and softball practices should the spring-time weather call for such — to use the space near the school, turf is required, Jerome said.
“The amount of use that we want to put on that field, it would be beat up, muddy, hard and sometimes there’d be a little bit of grass still up there,” Jerome said.
Other large grants and pieces of the puzzle are still pending. Applications for athletic grants with the Meyer Memorial Trust, Muscle Milk and the U.S. Soccer Foundation are still in deliberation, awards that would total close to $200,000 should Pendleton High be chosen. More grant applications, among them the Pendleton Foundation, are due in the early spring.
Only after the school knows what kind of grant money it has to work with will the fundraising portion begin, Jerome said.
Pendleton High hopes to raise all money needed for the project through independent grants and fundraising, Jerome added. The field project funds will be separate from the school’s budget as allocated by the district.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.