SELMA - The Selma Unified School District began the process of building a new stadium at Selma High after holding a groundbreaking ceremony at Staley Stadium on Jan. 24.

Donors, superintendents, administrators, and coaches were in attendance along with Selma High cheerleaders and athletes.

Construction and renovations of the new stadium is slated to begin sometime next week with an estimated completion date for early to mid August 2019. The plan is to have it completed for the opening season game for Selma High football.

Like its predecessor, the new venue will be called Staley Stadium. The plan for a reconstructed Staley Stadium was moved forward after Measure O was approved by Selma voters in the November 2016 election.

“A dream come true for an athletic director is to be part of this process,” Selma High athletic director Randy Esraelian said. “Very few people get to actually be part of this process and…. I’m just glad the community rallied around us to be able to make this happen”

Along with LED lights, Esraelian added that the stadium “will have every feature in it that you could possibly need in regards to seating and technology.”

Bears head coach Matt Logue said the new stadium will be great site for the community when it's completed.

“I can’t wait til it’s actually done,” Logue said. “It’s great to talk about and plan and hope that it's done for the start of our next season.”

Logue added that he also looking forward to a new weight room to be built on campus. There was no confirmation of when the process of building a new weight room will begin.

The football team hosted the Central Section Division IV Championship game against Chowchilla at the old Staley Stadium in 2016. A week after the Bears won a Valley championship on its homefield, Selma hosted Bakersfield Christian for a state playoff game.

Selma running back Adam Rodriguez said the program’s first game at the new stadium will serve as a special moment for the team and community.

“We feel like it’s going to be packed,” Rodriguez said. “Of course a lot of students are going to come to see the new stadium and it’s going to bring a whole other atmosphere here.”

Like its predecessor, the new site will be the home venue for the football, track, and both boys and girls soccer teams.

Esraelian said the new venue’s all-weather track will allow the track team to host events unlike the old stadium, which featured a dirt track that surrounded the field.

“Our track program is probably going to be the biggest benefiters out of the track itself,” Esraelian said. “We can’t even practice here, much less compete. Since I’ve been here they had to travel to track meets. It’s going to be a blessing to have our track program benefit from this.”

The public will be allowed to use the new stadium’s track when completed.

Selma track head coach Alex Reyes said the all-weather track will be beneficial for the program.

“Actually having somewhere to practice and not having to worry about weather or anything like that,” Reyes said. “Unfortunately when it does rain we can’t practice for a couple days and now we can actually practice in the rain and not worry about it. We’ll have better equipment out and have better quality workouts with everything so it’s exciting.”

Reyes, who graduated from Selma High in 2007, said the all-weather track will also benefit the community.

“It’s come full circle,” Reyes said. “I’ve ran track since second grade and ran on this dirt, clay, whatever you want to call it for a long time, so it’ll be great for maybe my kids if they come here or not, but everybody will be able to run on something and be safe.”

Sophomore David Perez, a distance runner on the Bears’ track team, said he’s glad they’ll be able to run on an all-weather track and be more prepared for competition.

“Right now, we can only use running shoes,” Perez said. “We can’t use spikes so we can’t really practice.”

“We’re used to the dirt, so when we wear our spikes we’re kind of new to it and have to adjust to it. We’ll have our high jumps so we’ll be able to practice. Now, we have to bring them out to practice and it’s a hassle because we’re limited as to much how time we can be here.”

Junior Christopher Ross, another distance runner on the track team, said another highlight will be what having all the track facilities will allow their school to do.

“Hopefully, we can finally have a home meet.”

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Jeremiah Martinez can be reached at 559-583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com

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