Liberty High upgrades moving along

Photo by Tony Kukulich

Construction work continues at Liberty High School’s Ohmstede Field in Brentwood, Tuesday, Aug. 20. The field is expected to be ready in time for the Liberty Lions homecoming game against Pittsburg Oct. 18.

Brentwood’s reigning state champion Liberty High School football team is expected to play only two of its five regularly scheduled home games on campus this season.

But the Lions faithful are cheering loudly — the temporary changes will give way to stadium renovations and eventual on-campus facility improvements.

“This is just phase one of awesome things for the community,” said Ryan Partridge, the school’s athletic director and head varsity football coach. “It will affect so many people. We are just so excited about it.”

Come October, Ohmstede Field is expected to feature a new entrance, fresh and expanded home-side bleachers, and a redone ticket booth, concession stand and bathrooms. And those improvements are just the kickoff for what’s to come, all courtesy of Measure U — a $122 million bond measure approved by area voters in 2016.

A new weight room behind and underneath the home-side bleachers, and four basketball courts for use by physical education classes, as well as students during lunch, are slated for completion in the beginning of November; a new aquatic center and additional tennis courts are scheduled to open in June 2020; and a new school entrance, main administration building, remodeled cafeteria and a new U-shaped classroom building featuring 16-20 classrooms are all on the horizon.

“Liberty has a lot of character and charm, but our students deserve updated facilities,” said Principal Heather Harper, “and we are just so grateful that we are able to provide — through the Measure U bond — the ability for our students to play sports, go to classes, have lunch in updated, 21st-century facilities.”

The new stadium bleachers will accommodate up to 2,200 people, an increase of a few hundred, for games, rallies and other events. The future weight room will replace an old, rickety center housed inside a double-wide trailer, situated an inconvenient distance from where Lions sports squads practice. The school’s pool will also be renovated, expanding to regulation size.

Those improvements alone were enough to put smiles on several varsity football players’ faces this week, as the team practiced near several of the stadium’s evolving amenities.

Senior wide receiver and defensive back Joshua Dinkins said he can’t wait to play in the Lions’ revamped stadium.

“It’s going to be amazing, especially coming off last year,” he said, referring to the state-championship season. “I cannot wait to play the first game back on this actual field. There is nothing better.”

Harper said when additional amenities are finished, she looks forward to reliving the thrill she felt when a new Measure U-funded softball field debuted in the spring.

“The excitement is unbelievable,” Harper said. “When the softball field was done, it just blew everyone away. You see those types of facilities at other schools, but when you see those facilities at your school, it takes your breath away.”

The timeline for work on the project involving the new school entrance and main administration building, along with renovations to the cafeteria, hasn’t yet been established, Harper said.

On the heels of that project, Buildings B, C and D will be torn down and replaced with the two-story, U-shaped building housing the 16-20 new classrooms, increasing the total number of classrooms on campus. That project isn’t expected to begin until the main administration building opens.

“It’s definitely an older school,” said Liberty student Jay Butterfield. “But everything is going to clean up nice.”

The Liberty football team is expected to play its Sept. 13 home game against Monte Vista at Heritage High School, and its Sept. 21 home game against Cardinal Newman at Freedom High School. The Lions’ first home game back at Ohmstede Field is slated for Oct. 4, against Antioch.

For more information on Measure U, visit www.bit.ly/MEASUREU.

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