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New $9 million Paul Tyson Field could be ready by September

New $9 million Paul Tyson Field could be ready by September

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A North Richland Hills company could start work on a new $9 million Paul Tyson Field as soon as next month and have the facility ready to host events by September.

The Waco Independent School District Board of Trustees voted Thursday to award a contract to Northridge Construction Group, which bested three other firms, including two from Waco. The 2,000-seat replacement for the 60-year-old stadium will take shape just across 44th Street from the existing facility, a little closer to Waco High School.

The move is part of a larger bond-funded project involving the county, the school district and city of Waco, which together own about 260 acres in the area of the Extraco Events Center fairgrounds. Other highlights of the project include a $32 million multi-purpose facility called The BASE nearing completion on Bosque Boulevard; a new livestock facility that will eventually take the current Paul Tyson site behind the Extraco Coliseum, and relocation of the Lake Air Little League fields.

The voter-approved bond is being paid back with new McLennan County taxes on hotel stays and car rentals. The county will be chipping in $2.4 million from that funding source for the new Paul Tyson Field, which is named for a 1920s Waco High football coach.

The new $9 million facility will feature an eight-lane track built to University Interscholastic League standards, meaning it can host track and field events, and a synthetic turf competition field. A new 2,000-seat grandstand will accommodate fans and visitors. A new 3,000-square-foot building will accommodate a press box, ticketing areas, concession stands and restrooms. Two existing locker rooms will be expanded. The project also will include practice fields with basic amenities for baseball and softball near the stadium.

The reshuffling of properties in the broader project, known as the “venue project” because of the type of tax funding the work, means the existing Paul Tyson is now county property, but the school district plans to lease the old stadium until the new one is ready, Waco ISD Chief of Staff Kyle DeBeer said.

Also last week, the Waco City Council took action to move Waco’s main part of the collaboration along, voting to award a $672,500 contract to the Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam consulting firm to prepare an engineering, design and construction plan for the Lake Air Little League and Challenger League project.

“Given their age and condition, these facilities are due for reinvestment to continue serving the community,” according to a staff recommendation to the city council. “Redevelopment will allow the entire complex to utilize a single site with improved amenities and accessibility.”

Parks and Recreation Director Jonathan Cook said engineering and design services typically represent 10% to 15% of total projected costs, meaning reworking the ballfields could cost more than $9 million, if those percentages hold true to form.

“But I doubt it will be that expensive,” Cook said.

McLennan County’s venue tax contribution to the Little League project will be $3.6 million, and the city has another $2 million from its Capital Improvement Program earmarked for the project.

“Little League and Waco have so much history,” Cook said. “The programs are strong and thriving, and we want to support them. It’s important we continue to provide sports facilities.”

Cook said the city recognizes Little League play is only months away. The consulting work should not prove disruptive this season, he said, but it remains to be seen if the COVID-19 pandemic will dampen hopes.

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