Dubuque School District: Senior baseball field on deck for improvements

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- $30 million improvements to an eastern Iowa school are striking out with one group of people.

The Dubuque Community School District created this rendering of the Dubuque Senior High School baseball field in 2015. They hope construction starts summer of 2019.

Fans and players of the Dubuque Senior baseball team say their field has been in need of upgrades for years. The field is off W. Locust Street and people have to walk down a grassy hill to get to the bleachers. Fans and players say that's a problem.

During a Friday day game, player Erik Tupper was sitting the game out due to a sprained ankle. When asked about the field he said, "yes, there needs to be a lot of improvements."

He graduated from Senior this year, so he's just finishing up his fifth and final season. He's watched for years as fans have struggled to get down to the bleachers or settled to view the game from the top of the hill.

"I feel like there could be a ramp or something so people could get down close to the action," Tupper said.

Coach Andrew Reese agreed, saying, "this hill right here, you know it causes some issues."

Another issue for many are the portable toilets that sit at the top of the hill. Tupper said, "They’re not good. You know they stink a little bit and all that.”

Parents would also like a new concession stand that is actually open for games. It was not open at the games on Friday.

Building and Grounds Manager Bill Burkhart says the district has a five year plan for the baseball field. It's a plan that should've started in 2015. Instead, construction at the school took priority.

"When senior was approved and that project impacted on this, we just didn't think it was feasible to have all this going on at once," he explained.

Burkhart said the district opted to address accessibility issues at Hempstead's baseball field while Senior construction took place.

Now that construction at Senior is ending at the end of August, Burkhart said the district can focus on the baseball field.

Burkhart said next summer they will add, "additional seating area, additional ADA parking, better access to access the bleachers so people with accessibility issues will feel like they're more inclusive."

The following summer, restrooms and a new concession stand will be built.

"We roughed in the underground sanitary line six or seven years ago in anticipation of this," Burkhart said. "Sometimes it doesn’t seem like we’re moving fast enough but we have limited resources and we have to come along as we can afford to do the work.”

He said the work should cost about $200,000.

Burkhart said accessibility at the field was not addressed before 2015 because of efforts to improve accessibility inside district buildings.

"We’re getting caught up on that, and now it’s time to start moving outside and take that same 'let’s improve the accessibility to our facilities' outside," he said.

Reese said he plans to work with the district on their plan. "Me being a new coach I’ll be sitting down at the end of the season to tell my views on the plan, get a better understanding of what they have going already," he said.

Tupper hopes future players can enjoy a better facility soon.

"I think everything could improve pretty much," he said.