Thousands of people spend their Friday nights at Albuquerque Public Schools football stadiums.
While the district recently opened its newest complex on the west side of the city, over the next five years, the other two older stadiums will need work to make sure they can keep welcoming fans and athletes.
KRQE News 13 spoke with Albuquerque Public Schools and its Capital Master Plan department about what projects are on the horizon for all three football-centered physical education facilities.
“We have to make sure that it’s still safe, we have to make sure that it works equitably for all the kids in the district,” said Kizito Wijenje, the executive director of APS’ Capital Master Plan.
Over the next five years, the district has a total of $26-million in upgrades that have been identified as “needs” at the three football stadiums. Those include Community Stadium on the west side, Milne Stadium near downtown, and Wilson Stadium in the northeast heights.
“I think it’s a beautiful stadium,” said Patrick Miles, speaking of Wilson Stadium.
Despite the age of facilities like Milne and Wilson, many fans still have a lot of admiration for the district’s facilities.
“It’s really maintained pretty well,” said Kathy Truong, who goes to games to watch her son play for Eldorado High School.
“We’ve tried to take good care of it,” said Wijenje.
The district’s newest football facility, Community Stadium, opened in 2013. In the next five years, the district has outlined roughly $117,000 in work needed at the site. That includes some erosion controls outside of the stadium, roof access to the press box, a sink for the training room and shade structures for the picnic area.
“Shade structures in New Mexico, with our sunshine, are pretty much a health thing,” said Wijenje.
Community Stadium has also identified a need for a goalpost replacement in the next five years. The current goal post is said to “torque” when there are high winds.
The oldest facility, Milne Stadium was built in 1939. It needs about $8.5-million in upgrades over the next five years, according to the school’s master plan. That includes a series of projects like a track replacement, new stadium lighting, restroom additions, concession stand upgrades and more.
According to the master plan, Wilson Stadium has been identified as needing the costliest work, with an estimated $17.8-million in upgrades outlined. That includes bathroom and grand stand upgrades, locker room improvements, additional storage and more.
Out of all of the needs, APS says the most critical upgrades outlined for the stadiums are in the realm of accessibility and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“What we’ll need to do in the future is to deal with those basic ADA issues,” said Wijenje.
At Milne and Wilson stadiums, the home grandstands have no ramps up to the press box, or the top of the main seating areas.
“Anybody with disabilities, unless they can sit here, you know, it’s pretty tough,” said Wijenje, referencing a front row seating area at Milne Stadium.
Some parents like Patrick Miles say they would appreciate more ADA improvements.
“We have a little girl that’s in a wheelchair here,” said Miles. “Certainly, having more ramps and more places where people in wheelchairs can watch the game.”
All of the needs outlined at the stadiums are currently listed as “unfunded,” according to APS’ capital master plan website.
APS is expected to ask voters for new construction bonds in 2019, which will cover a series of projects the district is still working to compile. However, it’s unlikely that many stadium projects will be a part of that list, unless it’s a “life, health and safety” issue.
“We’ve got a lot of other needs,” said Wijenje. “(Stadiums) come down a little bit lower on the priority than classrooms and direct classroom amenities, teacher and student classroom amenities.”