Southwestern College’s long-awaited $45 million DeVore Stadium 2.0 has opened its gates to the community — well, some of it.
Neighboring Bonita Vista High School’s Barons found SWC barren. BVH football players were not allowed access to the new locker rooms, training facilities, concession facilities, water, ice or even toilet paper at their home opener.
SWC has a lifetime obligation to share facilities with BVH — which helped build the stadium — and college officials quickly issued an apology following a whacking in the San Diego County news media. President Dr. Melinda Nish apologized for Dean of Athletics Terry Davis’ blunder. Her statement said, “For the remainder of the Barons’ football season:
- The men’s and women’s soccer lockers rooms on the ground floor of the new field house will be available for the Barons and their visiting teams;
- Referees may use the staff locker room on the 4th floor of the field house;
- In advance of each game, Bonita Vista High School trainers will coordinate with Southwestern College trainers to make arrangements for ice and other needs;
- Bonita Vista High will be able to use the Southwestern College ticket office, but not the college’s ticketing equipment (the same arrangement SWC had when playing at Olympian High School);
- Bonita Vista High will reimburse Southwestern College for cleaning expenses, supplies and bathroom supplies (the same arrangement SWC had when playing at Olympian High School);
- Waiving of the college’s requirement of exclusive concession sales to allow Bonita Vista High School fundraising food concessions within the public breezeways.”
BVH head football coach Chris Thompson said he was upset with the initial rude treatment, but was now satisfied.
“We got our accommodations,” he said. “I don’t have anything to complain or be upset about. It obviously got all the way to the top and when that happens things get done.”
SWC narrowly avoided losing a contract with California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) to host three days of high school championship football games in November and December.
“The agreement pays Southwestern College $53,000 to host the games and will be on the November 12 governing board meeting agenda for approval,” according to Public Information Officer Lillian Leopold.
Proposition R bond funded the $45 million renovation, which took nearly three years to finish and came in $1.5 million over budget.
Nearly one eighth of the voter-approved $389 million bond has gone into stadium
improvements. Fans have mostly expressed approval of the renovated facility, but football and soccer players have given it less-generous reviews and have complained about the hard surface that recently reached 140 degrees during an afternoon soccer match.
Contractors blamed unanticipated underground water for the cost overrun. It required a canyon drainage system, which cost an additional $1.02 million, according to Justin Maletic, project manager for Balfour Beatty construction.
“When we dug down we hit this body of water, basically an underground aquifer and had quite a bit of water coming out of the wall,” he said. “We put in horizontal drains and basically relieved the hydrostatic pressure behind the wall. (We) eventually diverted it under the building to drain into the sewage system.”
Nearly $500,000 was added for an electronic security system and audio video equipment.
Dr. Steve Crow, vice president of business and financial affairs said the added equipment is for safety.
“This additional scope of work is to address campus security initiatives and current audio visual technology that was necessary, but not included in the original contract,” he said.
SWC construction consultant Mark Claussen said new synthetic field will have a cooling system for hot days and a drainage system for wet weather and will save 1 million gallons of water per year.
The field is marked with both football and soccer lines in offsetting colors.
Balfour Beatty Construction Superintendent Tyler Steele said the field house earned LEED Gold ranking for sustainability.
“The U.S. Green Building Council certifies buildings based on a number of criteria all related to sustainability, such as energy efficiency, day lighting, environmental footprints and what it’s made of,” said Steele. “If you can buy organic for a building and get your building products from close by, you save money.”
SWC’s field house also has state-of-the-art classrooms, including a new 150-seat lecture hall.
Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox attended the stadium’s opening ceremony and counts herself as a fan of the renovation. She said SWC has built something for today’s generation and tomorrow’s, thanks to the generosity of taxpayers who supported the bond issue.
“This was out in the middle of nowhere in the ‘60s and now to look at this extraordinary corner with not only things for athletes and coaches but also for the observer,” she said.
Nish said she is very pleased with the project and that commencement exercises would return to the campus after three years at the Chula Vista Amphitheatre.
“(This) is a great venue for classes, for our football team and for distinguished speakers series,” she said. “This is going to be a fabulous asset for our students and for our community.”
DeVore Stadium was named after Chet DeVore, who served as SWC president from 1961-1981. On the day the stadium was rededicated, DeVore’s sons John and James told the audience about their father’s passion for Southwestern and what the new stadium would have meant to him.
“The stadium was named after our dad for the work that he mostly did as superintendent/president,” James said. “For his vision and his leadership, but in his heart our dad was a football coach and he did believe that athletics was the perfect place to teach character to a young student.”