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Pitman stadium project not likely in near future
Pitman field
Pitman High football players practice on a newly installed field in August 2019. The Pride can’t play any Friday night games on their home field without stadium seating and lighting (Journal file photo).

Following an outpouring of community support to build a sports stadium at Pitman High School, the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees received information on what it would take to get the project done. According to TUSD Assistant Superintendent Barney Gordon, the main obstacle is funding.

“I don’t want to speak for anybody, but I’m highly confident every board member wants to see a stadium at Pitman High School sometime in the near future,” said Gordon. “But, as we know, funding is not unlimited and there are a lot of different projects. One thing I could say is we never have enough money to do everything we want.”

According to Gordon, the initial proposal to build Pitman High was bond Measure F for $65 million dollars, which included building a large school and a stadium, but it didn’t have community support and failed. A second bond was presented in 1997 for $35 million, with reduced land and facilities and no stadium; that bond passed. The district contributed tens of millions of dollars to complete the school even without a stadium.

There have been recent improvements to Pitman facilities including a new pool, new softball fields, a new track and a synthetic field.

“The district has made significant investments at Pitman High School, but we still don’t have a stadium,” said Gordon.

According to Gordon, it is not uncommon for high schools not to have stadiums. He cited Ceres Unified having two high schools and one stadium and Modesto City Schools having three stadiums for seven high schools as examples.

Gordon explained that bond measures are typically what are used to build new facilities, but cautioned that taxpayers include residents not in the district such as places like Chatom. In the poll on how to spend bond funds in 2016, building a Pitman stadium “came dead last.”

“When you’re looking at building a large facility like a stadium, community support matters,” said Gordon.

Pitman currently has an artificial turf for the athletes to compete, however, they need to install more to have a stadium. According to Gordon, bleachers are going to cost between $2.5-$3 million, restrooms and concessions are going to cost about $3 million, ticket booths and walkways about $500,000, scoreboard about $150,000 and lighting about $500,000.

“The full cost would be anywhere between $9-$11 million, including soft costs which are typically 30 percent of any project,” said Gordon.

While football games might be out of reach just yet, the district does want to make incremental steps towards hosting events by the end of this calendar year.

“Friday night football games may be a ways away, but I do want to get to the point of hosting track and soccer games safely,” said Gordon. “We’re discussing with architects about pathways to biting off it off in small parts and eventually having that stadium.”

After installing the synthetic field and repurposing the track, track meets and practices are being held at Pitman. With students practicing and competing later in the day due to heat concerns, the administration is recommending moving forward with lighting projects first.