New DUSD athletic facilities in the works

Dinuba Unified School District works to solidify plans for its on-site athletic facilities at the community’s new upcoming high school

A local community member enters the Dinuba Unified district office. (Kenny Goodman)
A local community member enters the Dinuba Unified district office. (Kenny Goodman)
Serena Bettis
Published September 24, 2023  • 
1:00 pm

DINUBA – Alongside a shiny new high school, Dinuba students and sports fans alike will get to experience fresh athletic facilities in the coming years. 

The Dinuba Unified School District (DUSD) Board of Trustees approved the master plan for the new Dinuba High School’s athletic facilities on Sept. 14, with decisions on how those plans will be realized yet to come. DUSD Superintendent Joe Hernandez said the district is exploring opportunities for funding the athletic facilities and hopes to get started as soon as possible. 

“We want to keep the momentum moving towards continuing to build elements of this athletic plan,” Hernandez said.

A proposed football stadium and aquatics center are just two pieces of the facilities plan that may excite Emperors fans. The facilities will also include space for baseball, softball, soccer, track and tennis. 

As of current, the anticipated plans include four practice soccer fields and a competition field that Hernandez said will likely be lighted, allowing for night games or practice. He added that the intent with the fields is to also open them up to community use.

Hernandez said the new facilities will have eight tennis courts, up from the four courts that the current high school has. He said more courts would allow the school to have a bigger tennis team, and the possibility of using some courts for pickleball, “the fastest growing sport in America,” was mentioned at the DUSD meeting as well.

The expansion of the athletic facilities compared to what the current Dinuba High School has will open up more opportunities for freshman teams, Hernandez said. It will also be positive for students because they will be able to participate in all athletics on-site as opposed to having to go elsewhere.

“What’s nice about our plan (is) we’d be able to have all of our athletic practice and competition facilities on the school site, and that’s big to us,” Hernandez said. “We wouldn’t have to bus kids out to another school for competition and practice.”

Hernandez said that the Dinuba High School baseball team currently plays at the junior high, and the soccer team occasionally has to go to an elementary school to practice because of field availability. 

A baseball and softball stadium is one of the higher priorities to be built first, with the aquatics complex and a proposed auxiliary gym lower down on the list. The football stadium is also not a top priority because Dinuba already has one, Hernandez said.

The board of trustees is currently deliberating football stadium options. Hernandez said they are looking to build a 7,000-seat stadium and are weighing the options of an aluminum stadium — or aluminum bleachers, like most high school sports have — and a concrete stadium. A concrete stadium could be double the cost, but would have better durability among other benefits.

At its next meeting on Sept. 28, the board will be presented with the results of a bond survey to see what the community thinks about a future bond that would fund elements of the athletic plan. The future bond, which would be voted on in November 2024, would also help with “improvements for all of our schools that relate to safety,” Hernandez said.

The board will also consider a financing plan called a Certificate of Participation (COP) that would allow the district to begin building some of the athletic facilities now, before a bond is approved, and then pay for them with the bond later on.

While the exact construction and funding details of the athletic facilities are not set in stone, the district is eager to get started. Hernandez said that everywhere he goes, when talking about this project the conversation revolves around how it’s “exciting to think about the vision of our facilities of the future.”

“To really plan and build for the future is good work, and our kids deserve the best academics and the best facilities — athletic and academic — that we can provide,” Hernandez said.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter