The future of a Refugio landmark became the present this past week, with plans finalized for the renovations of a legendary arena.
At a Feb. 9 special meeting of Refugio Independent School District’s Board of Trustees, the board selected a final contractor for repairs on Jack Sportsman Bobcat Stadium, bringing into focus a timeline for completion of the project.
The board has chosen the services of Weaver and Jacobs Construction, based out of Corpus Christi, with two separate bids totaling $2.25 million in repair and renovation costs. An estimated project completion is August 2021, in time for the Bobcats’ football season to begin.
An extensive list of improvements, says school advisor on architecture Jay Boynton, will mean “no problems” for the stadium’s foreseeable future.
“It should look like a relatively new stadium ... I can’t make this look like a 2022 stadium, but, it will look like a well-maintained (stadium) and a stadium you can be proud of,” Boynton said.
Also attending the meeting by way of ZOOM was Weaver and Jacobs structural engineer Daniel Grant, who has been making visual observations of Bobcat Stadium for the past several months.
In his findings, Grant stated that there were locations in the arena where steel reinforcing had completely rusted through due to extensive corrosion. However, his solution is to patch the steel with no replacement needed, citing that no spot in the stadium was at “maximum demand.”
“We don’t have any structural concerns, the repair should stop the process of corrosion in those locations,” Grant said. “Those bars will be covered again with good material ... I can’t tell you a timeline for how long the structure could remain, but there will be no current problems when the project is finished.”
The scope of the project, while having many steps, is not the worst-case scenario many had feared.
“I guess I was pleasantly surprised,” Boynton said. “I thought we would discover and have more damage.”
The $2.25 million price tag of the renovations is broken down into two bids, a main bid totaling $1.39 million and an alternate bid of $861,000.
In the main bid from Weaver and Jacobs is a host of needed fixes, beginning with the patching of all exposed steel that is come across during the renovation process, which was noted by Boynton as “quite a bit.”
Apart from the steel patching, the project will bring in new safety railings all the way around the stadium, apart from the press box. In the press box itself, there will be new lighting and paint inside, as well as new countertops for journalists and other media.
Improvements expand to the restrooms, locker rooms and showers of the stadium. There will be new lighting in all stadium restrooms and locker rooms, as well as cleaning of the showers and other toiletry work. Locker rooms will also have their floors cleaned and painted.
The stadium’s foundation will rise in quality with the replacement of all exterior doors, bringing in new whole metal doors and frames. All existing walls of the facility will also be repainted, while all windows will be replaced.
Taking care of previously unsightly portions of the stadium, the project will remove fencing around the perimeter that is leaning from prior damage. Fencing at several locations will be replaced, including fencing near the school bus barn and fieldhouse.
Other amenities of the base bid include a new public address system with four new speakers as well as new countertops for the north concession stand.
The alternate bid has one main goal, that being the improvement of stadium bleachers. Current bleachers will be removed from the premises, freeing up the concrete below to be sealed and coated. After the concrete is strengthened, all new aluminum bleachers will be adorned on both sides of the arena, serving two purposes.
“It would protect the concrete from further damage, it seals it, it kind of helps it as a maintenance situation,” RISD Superintendent Melissa Gonzales said. “But also, it will make (the stadium) look very, very nice.”
RISD Board President Andy Rocha asked if extra renovations would be needed, to which the architectural team replied that they have done their “due diligence” in what is required to get the stadium running by the 2021 football campaign.
“There’s no guarantees in life and all that kind of stuff, but I really don’t expect that to happen,” Grant said.
As for the funding, Gonzales stated that she felt the district will “be able to handle it, one way or another,” allowing work to begin in earnest.