Bakersfield High has had a month and a day of celebrating its state football title, and it culminated today with a ceremony at Harvey Auditorium that included Mayor Harvey Hall, U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy and a few other dignitaries.
It was a cool deal, seeing the Drillers watch their own highlights and watching students go crazy all over again, then hearing the bigwigs on stage talk about how much watching this team meant to them. The school also unveiled the design for the team's championship rings.
And then, late in the assembly, David Reese dropped the day's real bombshell: Griffith Field is going to be renovated. Big-time. The illustrations above show you what it will look like, when renovation is completed in time for the 2016 season. Construction will begin after this fall's football season and take about a year and a half. The 2015 BHS football team (and two years' worth of soccer and track teams) will be without a home and will likely play home games at West High or possibly Bakersfield College.
When Griffith Field re-opens, the Drillers hope to have an all-weather track (only Liberty has one among Kern High School District schools) and artificial turf, which would be a first in the city. The KHSD, however, only has given BHS funding for the stadium renovation and for a regular grass field/dirt track. BHS will have to raise funds for the difference between grass/dirt and the all-weather stuff, which Reese says comes out to a little more than $1 million.
My guess is, with support for the program at a high point after the state title, they'll get to that rather large number by the end of the year. And it's a good thing for the school, the district and the county. For one thing, Griffith Field is a cathedral when it comes to high school football in California, and it's falling apart in places. A facelift is long overdue. For another, high school track and field in this area deserves to have more than one place to hold a meet on a legitimate track without having to pay rent at BC or CSUB. And the artists' renditions make Griffith look beautiful, like a place you'd love to spend a fall evening.
And that's the way it should be, whether you're a Drillers fan or not.
Louis Amestoy and I talked about what it all means here: