After months of planning, construction on Freer ISD’s new athletic facilities is officially underway.

School officials, board members and community members broke ground on the $5.73 million project Thursday afternoon on the site of the construction.

Freer voters passed the bond on May 9. The funds will pay for the construction of a football stadium, as well as a baseball and softball facility. Aside from the improvements to the athletic facilities, the bond includes a new 12,000-square foot agricultural science facility and a 7,000-square foot band and fine arts facility.

The Freer school board approved the hiring of Hellas Construction for the athletic facilities on June 3. The timeline for the construction has the football stadium ready for use on Oct. 1 this fall. The baseball and softball fields are slated to be completed by March 1. The other facilities will take longer to build since the athletic facilities being built are based off blueprints of pother facilities Hellas Construction has built in Van Horn, Texas and other schools.

“This is a game-changer for Freer,” Freer ISD Steve VanMatre said. “May 9th was a big day here in Freer. About the time we were getting election results telling us that the bond had passes, our baseball team was just getting back into town after being George West in the playoffs. It was a special moment for us, and a kind of feeling that we hope carries over once our new facilities are in place.”

The new stadium will include synthetic turf and a new all-weather track, as well as ticket booths, restrooms and concession area. The home side of the stadium will include 1,469 seats with 332 reserved seats and 20 handicap spaces. It will also have a new press box. The visitors side will seat 1,074 and has 18 handicap spaces. The new stadium will also include a new sports lighting system.

The bond will also allow for Anderson Park, which will be a baseball and softball complex with elevated seating, including 350 seats for baseball and 200 for softball. The two fields will also have synthetic turf and batting cages for both fields. The park too will have a new sports lighting system and a new concession and restroom area.

The first phase of the project comprises the conversion of Buckaroo Stadium’s natural grass field to Hellas’ Matrix Turf with REALFILL infill, a highly demanded system that provides enhanced performance and greater playability for athletes. It also includes a new D-zone area with epiQ TRACKS V300 running track surface that will offer the Buckaroos the privilege to hold track and field events. New bleachers will be added to home and visitor’s sides, as well as home section seats, stadium lighting, concession stands, restroom buildings, and a 62-foot press box. Also included in the project are arched entryways, two ticket booths, fencing, a recycled concrete parking lot, new goal posts, and a flagpole.

The second phase of the project will convert the Buckaroos’ practice football field to a new baseball and softball stadium. The current natural grass field will be replaced with a Matrix Baseball/Softball Turf System with clay mounds and batting circles. New bullpens will be added featuring Hellas’ Matrix Batting Cage Turf, a durable system that resembles mowed grass and is optimized for baseball and softball practice. Hellas will also provide warning tracks, bleachers, masonry dugouts with storage, fencing, netting systems, backstops, a restroom/concession building, decorative arched entryways, walkways with concrete flatwork, ticket booths, and a press box for each of the fields.

The first phase of the project is to be finalized before October and in time for the Buckaroos’ 2015-16 football season. The second phase is expected to be completed in early 2016.