It sits downtown at the end of Commerce Street, nestled securely between the railroad tracks and Rusk Street ... an icon of the city's strength and history. The Tomato Bowl, built in the late 1930s through the Federal Works Progress Administration program, has represented Jacksonville's heritage hosting sporting and other events by the bowl full through the decades.

In January, Jacksonville ISD officials announced a proposal to renovate the structure to better serve the community. It has not been updated since 1980,

officials said.

As one of the premier facilities in Jacksonville, it is unbelievable that improvements have not been made to it in 37 years! Jacksonville ISD has grown tremendously in that time, and the Tomato Bowl should reflect the district's progress, as well.

Since its beginning, the Tomato Bowl has served the students and people of Jacksonville with excellence and with insignificant overhead. It has served as a stage upon which students and parents have come together to celebrate students' accomplishments as they enter the "real world."

The Tomato Bowl is home to the Fightin' Indians football and soccer teams, and a host of players who have spent Friday nights inside its rock walls have continued their careers in college and in professional level sports.

It has been the venue for many events, and it even serves as the backdrop for many JHS senior photos.

The time has come to both embrace our heritage and infuse it with new life.

A Tomato Bowl upgrade would include new general seating, new dressing rooms for teams and officials, two new concession buildings, a new playing surface, a new sound system and new stadium lights, expanded toilet facilities (much needed) and more, bringing the field into complete compliance with the “American’s With Disabilities Act." With the upgrades, the total seating capacity will increase from 6,000 to 8,000.

All of this for a price tag of $21 million with approximately $16 million allotted for the Tomato Bowl and another $5 million for the district's Career and Technology Education facility.

The CTE building proposal would increase square footage of the complex from 26,656 sq. ft. to 38,231 sq. ft. Three new classrooms would be added, the Ag Shop space would be doubled, and a new welding shop with adequate room, and ventilation would be provided, in addition to extra storage and restrooms. According to school officials, 63 percent of all JHS students take at least one CTE course. Therefore, this facility is also in need of some improvements to better serve students.

The proposed seven-cent increase for voted bonds would mean a home valued at $100,000 before exemption would see an increase of $49.53 a year in taxes, or $4.13 per month. A $250,000 home (before exemption) would see a projected annual tax increase of $157.50, or $13.13 per month.

That seems like a small price to pay for the level of improvements to be made.

Al Chavira, JISD Board of Trustees member said: “I'm excited about these proposals, it's long overdue.”

Well said Mr. Chavira. We agree.

Show your support for the bond proposal on the May 8 ballot. Let's give the Tomato Bowl and CTE facility a much-needed facelift!

Jacksonville Progress

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