The Runyon Sports Complex is ready for the 2024 baseball and softball seasons after completing what could be its largest renovation project in six decades.
The estimated $1.6 million to $1.75 million project contracted by HW Houston Construction includes major improvements to the nearly 90-year-old field of the Hobbs complex. Live infield terrain, new dugouts, safety netting, a new press box, batting cage upgrades and accessibility improvements are among the new features of the field.
Improvements to other areas of the Runyon Sports Complex, such as energy-efficient lights at Corsentino Field, are also part of the improvements.
“I keep saying this is the heartbeat of Pueblo,” said Richard Orona, vice president of the board at the Runyon Sports Complex. “This is where all our kids come, whether they’re East Side, South Side, County or Pueblo West. They play against each other in high school and in the summer they’re on the same team.”
The new ground at Hobbs Field has already been tested. The Adams State University and Fort Hays State University baseball teams christened the field by playing four games on February 1-2. The complex also hosted youth baseball and softball camps on February 2nd.
Field shots have proven to be much faster in the field, but so have the players. However, the outfield retains its original grass and the outfield fence has retained its classic appearance.
The hybrid turf and dirt field at Hobbs will ultimately be more affordable for the Runyon Sports Complex team to maintain than a full grass field and will take less time to recover from the rain.
“The (Hobbs) field will probably be playable a half hour after the rain,” said Larry Romero, general manager of the Runyon Sports Complex. “Andenucio Field will be ready five hours after the rain.”
Hobbs Field’s new press box is located on the lower level of the middle grandstand, unlike the previous box that stood at the top of the grandstand. There are three rooms for the media or coaches to use, plus a fresh coat of green paint on the exterior.
Fans sitting in the stands behind home plate will have a less obstructed view of games, as black safety netting has replaced the old chain link fenced by metal posts. Accessibility ramps added to the stands allow those in wheelchairs to enjoy a game from some of the best seats in 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 semi-profit teams to the complex. NCAA Division I program Air Force Academy has already expressed interest, according to Romero.
“The Air Force has called — they’re going to be here on Sunday to do a cross-team because they’re snowed in where they are,” Romero told the Chief on Feb. 6. “They will be here on 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 approximately $66 million to Pueblo County government for numerous capital projects. Construction on Hobbs Field began in January 2023.
“Our commissioners have been great and our county manager has been very helpful throughout the project… It takes a family to build something like this,” Romero said. “It wasn’t just the contractors, the Runyon board or the county — it was everybody. It was a good joint venture.”
New Directors: Meet the future principals of Pueblo Centennial High School and Park View Elementary
Pueblo Chieftain reporter James Bartolo can be reached at [email protected]. Support local news, subscribe to The Pueblo Chieftain at subscribe.chieftain.com.