In a week, Manhattan High football fans will get their first look at the new turf at Bishop Stadium. MHS soccer players are already raving about the new surface, which for them is a huge improvement from inconsistent grass fields at Anneberg Park.
It’s a big step up in several ways. It took about $750,000, a combination of public money and private contributions, to make it happen.
Here’s hoping that the investment will spur a broader discussion about a better future for CiCo Park. We view this as a good time to start that discussion.
Bishop Stadium, as you probably know, sits in the middle of CiCo. The park, in west-central Manhattan southwest of the intersection of Kimball and Wreath avenues, is a wonderful community resource with great potential for improvement. It was established in 1962, a terrific cooperative effort between the city, county and school district governments.
But it’s getting a little aged now, which is why we believe it’s time for a discussion about ways to improve it for the longer haul. Essentially, we could have an all-new park without having to but the land or build all-new facilities, if we could agree on what needs to happen and make the investment.
Here’s what we can see:
—The county fairgrounds, the rodeo arena and the buildings there – Pottorf Hall, nearby barns and the rodeo arena – belong further north in the county, near the new county shops area north of Manhattan along Tuttle Creek Boulevard. There, they’ll be better able to provide for agricultural trade shows and the like, and they’ll have more space. County officials have already started thinking about this move. Such a move would create space for other amenities.
—The baseball/softball fields need substantial improvement. Water drains toward the fields, not away from them, and so lots of ballgames every summer have to be canceled. Ideally, these fields would be re-done with artificial turf and better drainage. That would provide a huge boost to Manhattan’s ability to attract ball tournaments in the summer, and to allow local kids to play more consistently.
—The tennis courts should be fixed and expanded. Manhattan needs more public courts to be able to bring in tournaments, so the facility could be significantly expanded at CiCo without taking up much room. The existing courts are in terrible shape, so now is the time to move.
—The playground is being improved already by the county, a welcome development.
—The pool is a good community asset.
—There should be further discussion of an indoor sports and recreation facility. That’s a separate discussion, but it would be a great step forward for the community. CiCo would be a logical place for it, given the location and the synergies with the other facilities already there.
The point is, it seems to us that the time is right to think ahead about the future of CiCo. The city, county and school districts here communicate well and generally work well together, with a few noteworthy exceptions. We would encourage them to put this issue on their collective agenda soon.