SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Son. — The new municipal baseball stadium here is now slated to open in September — a full year behind schedule but just in time to host two major sporting events.
The stadium will open no later than Sept. 19, just as Sonora state amateur baseball championship gets underway and a little less than a month before the start of the national amateur championship, said Ricardo Lugo, head of the city’s sports and recreation department.
Both tournaments will be televised, and Lugo and San Luis Rio Colorado officials are looking forward to the stadium helping bring attention to the city as a mecca of sorts of baseball in Mexico.
The stadium, completed a year ago largely with funds from Mexico’s federal government, is located on the city’s south side, in a huge, tree-shaded park known as El Bosque de la Ciudad.
Enrique Reina, the outgoing mayor of San Luis Rio Colorado, dedicated the stadium in September 2018 in what was one of his final acts in office. But the administration of his successor, current Mayor Santos Gonzalez, proceeded to shutter it, saying it lacked essential finishing touches, the most important being safety railings on the upper level of the multi-level stands.
In March, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced the federal government would allocate more than 40 million pesos to finish the first phase of the work and for expansion of the stadium from its original seating capacity of 3,500.
Lugo, head of the city’s sports and recreation department, said he expected final work on the stadium to begin this month.
“The idea is for them to do the work on the areas of security and then start on the expansion so that the stadium has the capacity for 7,000 fans,” he said.
“We have to provide the public a safe and comfortable place to see baseball, and have the comfort of knowing that children can walk throughout the stadium without worry that an accident is going to happen.”
The stadium will serve as the home field for the Algodoneros, the city’s franchise in the semi-pro Mexican Northern League. The delay in opening it cost the city the opportunity to host an exhibition game between teams in Mexico’s Pacific League, and the Algodoneros have remained in aging Andres Mena Montijo Stadium to play their games in the current summer season.
San Luis Rio Colorado last hosted games in the national baseball tournament about five years ago and in the state tournament nearly 20 years ago, Lugo said.
This year, 14 teams are expected to play at the new stadium in the state tournament and 18 are expected for the national tournament slated for October.
“The best amateur baseball at the national level is going to be played here,” Lugo said. “We are going to be in the national baseball spotlight. We expect that the expansion work will be well along and that the stadium will shine as it should.
“The wait was worth it,” he added. “The stadium will open with two big baseball events. We haven’t stopped to working because of that, and finally we are going to see it happen.”