Historic stadium’s mystique remains the same
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Brackenridge, Burbank, Edison, Fox Tech, Highlands, Jefferson, Lanier, Sam Houston.
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The words Burbank alum Cathy Tijerina spoke Aug. 16 would fall like sweet music on the ears of the folks from Joeris Contractors/Hunt Construction.
The one-time Bulldogs band member shared her first impressions of Alamo Stadium during the mult-use facility’s re-dedication ceremony. In her mind, though, Tijerina also recalled where she sat in the Rock Pile her high school band days.
“It’s new and improved,” she said simply yet eloquently, “but it hasn’t changed.”
That essentially was what the construction company was aiming for when it took on the job in 2010 as part of a $35 million bond project to renovate Alamo Stadium and the adjacent Alamo Convocation Center.
SAISD assistant athletic director Brian Clancy said the mission was preserving the basic look and feel of the original stadium – as it was in 1940, when it was built — yet to bringing it up to speed with relatively new showcase venues like the Northeast ISD’s Heroes Stadium and Northside ISD’s Farris Stadium.
“You can’t tell the old rock from the new rock,” Clancy said. “They did a great job of matching it to the existing rock. They also cleaned up and re-tapped all that rock.
“Even the palm tree entrance and the entry corridor has been freshly landscaped.”
The stadium sacrificed some of its 23,000-seat capacity to widen the playing field for soccer. No longer Texas’ largest stadium, it’s still in the top 10 at about 18,000.
After putting a fresh face on it, the SAISD was selling relics from the old stadium like chairs, bricks and turf shadow boxes to the nostalgic and community-minded.
Guadalupe Cobarrubias Jr., a 1988 Edison grad, and his family were there to embrace the changes.
Cobarrubias’ son, Joseph Flores Jr., will play football and soccer at the stadium for the Golden Bears. His daughter, Christina Cobarrubias, was looking forward to playing soccer and running track at the rejuvenated stadium.
“It’s what we were hoping for,” Mr. Cobarrubias said. “We went to the board meeting and really pushed for it.”
The most visible modification is a 45 foot by 24 foot Daktronics scoreboard, considered the second-largest in San Antonio. Reproducation on the replay screens is said to be comparable with major-college boards.
The east entrance will be home to the new SAISD Sports Hall of Fame. Spotlighted plaques of the inductees, whom the public can nominate until Sept. 1 at http://www.saisd.net/dept/athletics889/, will grace the commons area.
Coaches and athletes will appreciate that both the home and visitors locker rooms are equipped with multiple whiteboards and feature game clocks on the wall. Even the filming area on the third level is more user-friendly.
“It’s really special for me,” said interim SAISD athletic director Frank Arnold, who wore a Burbank football uniform at the stadium in the late 1950s. “It’s going back home, to know the history of the place. It’s great for our student-athletes to have this facility.”
Harlandale coach Isaac Martinez, whose team will play three games there, is happiest about the new FieldTurf playing surface.
“We’re kind of excited about (the renovation),” said Martinez, whose home field was upgraded a couple of seasons ago. “It’s a 15-minute drive one way and we’re at beautiful Alamo Stadium. And a five-minute drive the other way and we’re at our beautiful Harlandale Memorial Stadium.”
With the new and old intermingling at Alamo Stadium, it was impossible during the re-dedication ceremony for SAISD alumni to fend off their memories.
Gus Tijerina, Cathy’s husband and a 1988 Burbank alum, was reminded of a Brackenridge playoff game he attended as a youngster, not knowing he’d play at the Rock Pile during his Bulldogs football career.
“I just love it,” said Tijerina, whose son Augie is a Burbank junior and band member. “All of my best and worst football memories happened right here.
“I guess, in 20 years when he has kids, my son will be able to come back here and reminisce about his high school years.”