SELMA - Local football fans that were planning to attend Selma High’s opening season game at the newly renovated Staley Stadium will most likely have to wait a few more months to step inside the reconstructed facility.

With numerous delays including the installation of the lights, the all-weather track, and bathroom facilities, the tentative completion date of the new stadium will be possibly pushed back to the middle of October, which is around the time of a scheduled home game against Exeter. That matchup is set for Oct. 18 and it's expected to serve as the Bears’ homecoming game.

“It was kind of questionable from the very beginning if we were going to get it finished enough in time to play this season’s home games,” Selma Unified School District assistant superintendent Larry Teixiera said. “It was always questionable from the start, but we were hoping to get enough done to play on it.”

Teixiera didn’t officially confirm the stadium’s completion date, but he said opening the stadium in the middle of October is the current goal. He said it was “optimistic” for the Selma football team to play all six of their home games at the new stadium

The Bears were originally scheduled to play its first four games of the season at home, but Friday night lights in Selma won’t possibly occur until the Exeter game. The game against the Monarchs was originally scheduled as the second to last home of the season. The Bears are scheduled to host rival Kingsburg in the 87th Fire Extinguisher meeting in the regular season finale on Nov. 1.

Selma High athletic director Randy Esraelian said the first four games of the season will officially be played at the opposing teams’ venue or on neutral sites. The opening season game against Kerman on Aug. 23 will be played at Kerman High School, followed by the Independence (Aug. 30) and Sunnyside (Sept. 6) games taking place on neutral sites, and playing Washington Union at John Ventura Stadium, the Panthers’ home venue, on Sept. 13. The neutral sites for the Independence and Sunnyside games has not officially been announced as of press time. 

“That would be the most we’ll have to do to interrupt our schedule,” Esraelian said.

The newly reconstructed stadium was moved forward after Measure O was approved by Selma voters in the 2016 election. The reconstructed stadium is costing an estimated $10 million of the $30.8 Measure O dollars.

The stadium’s major delay included the installation of the field lights, which was caused by footing issues, Teixiera said. The delay of the lights caused the installation of the all-weather track - a process that takes approximately 30 days - to be delayed. The track is expected to be orange and dark grey, Esraelian said.

As for installing the lights, the installation process began last week, Esraelian said. The footing issue was due to dense holes that would collapse, which was solved by using steel sleeves to stop the collapsing, Esraelian said.

“It was like digging a hole in a beach,” Esrealian said.

Teixeria said the bathroom facilities and concession stand, which will be modular buildings inside the stadium, won’t be completed until the middle of September.

“Modular manufactures all over California are really, really busy. So they were not able to get us in line soon enough to get the buildings done until about mid-September,” Teixiera said. “That set back all of the site work that has to go on around the buildings. So it’s kind of a cascade.”

Esraelian said the scoreboard will remain the same, but there are discussions about adding a video board, which will be an external project.

“We do have plans to hopefully generate enough funding through donations to maybe in the foreseeable future add a video board,” Esraelian said. “That’s exciting, but that’s not part of the stadium. It’ll be something that we’ll do as an external project with the donors or an external fundraiser.”

When the site is officially open, Teixiera said the completion will be “worth it.”

“It’s going to be really beautiful,” Teixeria said. “It’s going to have brand new bleachers and this community will finally have an all-weather track, which we wanted for decades. Brand new snack bar and restrooms. The restrooms in the previous stadium were really in bad shape. I think people, once they see the new stadium, they will forget about the fact that we may have to miss one season of home games.”

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

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