Runyon Sports Complex is ready for the 2024 baseball and softball seasons after completing what may be its biggest renovation project in six decades.
The estimated $1.6 million to $1.75 million project contracted by H.W. Houston Construction includes major improvements to the complex’s almost 90-year-old Hobbs Field. Vibrant infield turf, new dugouts, safety netting, a new press box, batting cage upgrades and accessibility improvements are among the field’s new features.
Improvements to other Runyon Sports Complex fields, like the energy-efficient lights at Corsentino Field, also are part of the upgrades.
“I keep saying this is the heartbeat of Pueblo,” said Richard Orona, board vice president at Runyon Sports Complex. “This is where all our kids come, whether they are East Side, South Side, County or Pueblo West. They play against each other in high school and in the summer they get on the same team.”
The new turf at Hobbs Field already has been tested. Adams State University and Fort Hays State University baseball teams christened the field by playing four games on Feb. 1-2. The complex also hosted youth baseball and softball camps on Feb. 2.
Infield hits have proven to be much faster on turf, but so have the players. However, the outfield maintains its original grass and the outfield fence has kept its classic look.
The hybrid turf and dirt field at Hobbs ultimately will be more affordable for the Runyon Sports Complex team to maintain than a full grass field and will take less time to recover from rain.
“(Hobbs) Field will probably be playable a half hour after the rain,” said Larry Romero, general manager of Runyon Sports Complex. “Andenucio Field is going to be ready five hours after the rain.”
Hobbs Field’s new press box is located in the middle grandstand’s lower level, unlike the previous box that stood atop the grandstand. It has three rooms for media outlets or coaches to utilize, plus a fresh coat of green paint on the exterior.
Fans sitting in the grandstands behind home plate will have a less obstructed view of games, as black safety netting has replaced the old chain link flanked by metal poles. Accessibility ramps added to grandstands allow those in wheelchairs to enjoy a game from some of the best seats at the complex.
Expansions to Hobbs Field’s dugouts and field dimensions funded by the project also could be a catalyst for attracting more college and semipro teams to the complex. Air Force Academy’s NCAA Division I program already has expressed interest, according to Romero.
“Air Force has called — they are going to be here Sunday to do some intersquad because they are snowed out where they are at,” Romero told the Chieftain on Feb. 6. “They are going to be here Sunday, weather permitting.”
Improvements to the Runyon Sports Complex were made possible through Pueblo County voters’ approval of Ballot Question 1A in 2016. The ballot question allocated about $66 million to Pueblo County government for multiple capital projects. Construction at Hobbs Field began in January 2023.
“Our commissioners have been great and our county manager has been very helpful throughout the whole project… It takes a family to build something like this,” Romero said. “It wasn’t just contractors, the Runyon board, or the county — it was everybody. It was a good joint venture.”
Pueblo Chieftain reporter James Bartolo can be reached at JBartolo@gannett.com. Support local news, subscribe to The Pueblo Chieftain at subscribe.chieftain.com.