For Eric Jacobson, it’s a race against time to construct a new on-campus softball diamond at El Camino High School.
Jacobson — El Camino’s co-athletic director, along with Jeff Cosico — is cautiously optimistic a synthetic turf field, two years in the making, will come to fruition at some point during the 2020 spring softball season. The Lady Colts have never before played on campus, utilizing different off-campus fields at Sunshine Gardens Elementary School, Terrabay Field and, most recently, Parkway Heights Middle School.
While the project has yet to break ground, the South San Francisco Unified School District Board of Trustees are estimating the project will be completed sometime in April 2020, midway through high school softball season.
“That’s what they’re projecting,” Jacobson said. “The tough thing is for the kids … we’ve been through this before … but I hope they get it open in time for the senior girls who fought hard for it.”
John Baker, president of the Board of Trustees, said the financial bids have yet to be sent out. There are, however, other projects in the works that have passed the bidding stage, specifically two fields at South San Francisco High School, where plans to build new softball and baseball diamonds are already in motion.
At Thursday’s board meeting, the lowest bid from Suarez & Muñoz Construction Inc. of $4,490,000 for the project at South San Francisco High will be voted on. It is the same contractor that completed the installation of new athletics fields at Parkway Heights.
South San Francisco High is engaged in a race against time of its own as the Warriors baseball team will start the season without its typical home field available. With the city of South San Francisco beginning a two-year project to replace the water treatment source of the local creek running through Orange Memorial Park, the baseball diamond, Bob Brian Field, will be removed during construction and will be replaced in two years, Baker said.
Pending approval for the South San Francisco High project, sending out bids for the El Camino softball diamond is on deck.
“We haven’t sent out bids out yet,” Baker said. “But we expect to send them out in mid-October. … Ideally [the El Camino softball field] will be open this season but I expect we’ll miss at least the first month.”
El Camino has been through this before with its football field. When the synthetic turf at Colt Field was installed in 2013, the Colts played most of their home games at South San Francisco High, until the project at El Camino was completed in November. The Colts were able to get on their actual home field for the first time in the final game of the 2013 season for the annual “Bell Game” rivalry matchup with South City.
Jacobson said he hopes the 2020 El Camino softball team gets more than this, but he is reserved to settling for the team getting to play at least one game on the new field. He said players from the team have attended Board of Trustees meetings and written letters in an effort to get the field built.
“The only game [the 2013 football team] got to play — the ‘Bell Game’ — they got to play one game here,” Jacobson said. “So, honestly, I hope [the softball team] gets to play 10 (games) or even more. But even if they got to play one game here, that would be great.”
The project was initially planned for completion by the start the 2020 season, according to Cosico.
“When we first got approved they said it’s going to be done by January 2020,” Cosico said. “The softball season doesn’t officially start till early February. So, the plan was, when the deal got approved, it was going to be ready for the start of their season.”
Other current athletics field projects under discussion in the city of South San Francisco are a multi-use youth baseball and soccer field at Buri Buri Elementary School, scheduled to break ground Sept. 2; and a field renovation at Westborough Middle School, still in preliminary discussions and in search of a funding source.
The $4,490,000 project at South San Francisco High will be paid for with funds provided by the district.
“We’re not using any special funding source,” Baker said. “We’re using regular fund monies for this.”
Baker — who took over his one-year term as Board of Trustees president in December 2018 — said the board is focused on improving schools’ athletics fields throughout the city.
“It’s part of a general focus on improving the fields in our district which, quite honestly, have not been up to par,” Baker said.