Donation prompts athletic facility study

Once again, a donor has prompted the Newport-Mesa Unified School District to consider building new athletics facilities at one of its high schools.

The school board Wednesday night approved a donor-funded $12,000 study of possible upgrades to Newport Harbor High School's baseball field.

The unnamed donor hopes the district can use private money to revamp the facility with better sod, new irrigation, expanded seating and more, according to school district officials.

"[The donor] has a vision," said Deputy Supt. Paul Reed, who oversees facilities. "It would be a significant improvement overall for the varsity baseball program and Newport Harbor High School."

This is the third group or individual to approach the school board in the past four months asking to pay for new athletics facilities.

In December, Corona del Mar High School track Coach Bill Sumner delivered a $15,000 check for a similar study looking at building a donor-funded stadium at CdM.

In March, the city of Costa Mesa handed over another $15,000 for a study on a new track and field at Costa Mesa High School that could be built with city money under a partnership with the district.

"The economy is improving, and I think it is wonderful in this community that people are interested in raising money or donating money," Reed said. "We've gone through a pretty rough last five years, and it's really nice to be coming out from underneath that cloud."

Even though the hypothetical baseball field renovations at Harbor wouldn't come out of schools' funds, the project could be indirectly dependent on how the district spends bond money, Reed said.

The field would likely have to be moved to achieve the donor's vision, Reed said.

With the $12,000, the district will hire consultant LPA to see what's feasible combined with possible renovations planned at Harbor's main athletic facility, Davidson Field.

Those improvements would be funded out of the $282-million in bond-based borrowing voters approved in 2005 under Measure F.

LPA is also on board to plot the Davidson renovations, but that project isn't guaranteed to happen.

"We won't know until the four projects moving forward under Measure F currently get to a bit more of a mature stage as to how much money would be left from the bond proceeds to be dedicated to Davidson and then whether that would be sufficient or not," Reed said. "We won't know that until, we think, the middle of next fall."

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck

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