Excitement has been building for the last several months as monstrous structures have risen toward the sky during the renovation phase of Southwestern College’s DeVore Stadium.
The college, which has offered both men’s and women’s intercollegiate sports since 1961, is currently expanding its facilities to include a state-of-the-art heath, exercise science and athletics building that will house a theater, classrooms with a lecture hall and locker rooms as well as a modernization of athletic fields throughout the campus.
The stadium renovation project is part of more than $55 million in construction funding made possible by Proposition R.
It has been obvious to every passerby in the last few weeks that completion is imminent on the stadium remodel.
The grand opening and stadium rededication is set for Friday, Aug. 15, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Tours start at 4:30 p.m. This is a free event and the public is invited.
The new facility is expected to open later this month — just in time for the Jaguars’ first home football game of the season against Grossmont College on Sept. 6.
Prop. R, the $389 million general obligation bond approved by voters in November 2008, is being used for construction, reconstruction and modernization of facilities on the Southwestern College campus and at its higher education centers in National City, Otay Mesa and San Ysidro.
But it’s taken more time than originally expected to complete.
College leadership placed all major construction on hold in early 2012 when procurement activities became part of a district attorney’s investigation. Construction resumed later that year after the college completed a 19-point action plan for improving business practices.
The centerpiece of the stadium renovation is the new 58,000-square-foot fieldhouse/classroom building that occupies the area where the stadium scoreboard and tall shade trees once stood.
The new four-story building is Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) silver-certified because of its environmental features. Besides providing valuable classroom space, the upper decks will also double as VIP seating for on-site athletic contests.
Final furniture and sports equipment is currently being moved into the building.
Perhaps no one more anxious for the opening of the new facility has been SWC head football coach Ed Carberry, whose Jaguars have ironically won two post-season bowl games while playing at Olympian High School the past two years.
Now the Southwestern team can properly be showcased in front of its fans.
“As phenomenal as it looks on the outside, it’s 10-times better on the inside,” Carberry noted. “It’s a show-stopper. It’s going to be a great athletic facility.”
Carberry said construction of the new fieldhouse will allow former athletic buildings and office space to be transformed into other uses.
“It will open up eight new classrooms on campus,” he said. “It’s going to have a ripple effect on other parts of campus.”
The project has forced the school’s football team to play its home games at Olympian High School the past two years during the construction phase.
The Jaguars will finally be returning home in 2014.
Carberry believes his team will provide fans with another winning season.
“The Jaguars have never gone to three bowls in a row in the history of the school, so that’s our primary goal that everyone is shooting for,” the SWC coach said.
A men's/women's soccer double-header on Aug. 27 is expected to be the first actual athletic competition in the refurbished stadium.
The fieldhouse/classroom complex cost an estimated $26 million alone. More than 70 class sections are expected to open up due to the extra classroom space.
The expansive weight training room is divided into two sections: one for general use by the student population and one specifically reserved for the football team and other athletic teams on campus. The space reserved for the sports teams can accomodate up to 150 athletes at one time.
The football lockerrom can accomodate up to 150 players and mimics the layout of many four-year universities.