New bleachers installed, plus a new facility to be used as team rooms and, soon, concessions was built inside Kiggins Bowl
It is quite a wonder for a senior to be able to play in the new Kiggins Bowl.
A coach who has been leading his team at Kiggins for 19 seasons loves the new space.
And a man who played at Kiggins years ago and has been working at the bowl for a decade now is amazed at how much the venue has changed.
The newly renovated Kiggins Bowl hosted its first varsity football game Saturday afternoon. It opened to rave reviews.
Part of the project started a few years back — the new broadcast press box opened two seasons ago. This year, though, the new bleachers have been installed on the “home” side. And safer, metal bleachers have been installed on the “visitor” side. And then there is the new building north of the end zone, with spacious team rooms and, soon, a concession stand.
“It is a beautiful facility,” said Skyview senior Ty Evans. “I thank everyone who contributed to it, paid for it.”
That would be the voters, who approved a bond in 2017 that led to a construction boom all over Vancouver Public Schools properties.
“Super dope,” Evans said. “New turf. New stands. New locker rooms. New concessions. It’s beautiful out here.”
Technically, Saturday’s game was a Columbia River home game. The Rapids’ own stadium renovation is expected to be ready for fans next week. This week? For the annual Skyview game? Administrators felt Kiggins would be better for the crowd.
Skyview would pull away from River 41-13.
And Skyview is one of the teams that calls Kiggins Bowl home.
For years, Skyview coach Steve Kizer has been bringing his teams to Kiggins, squeezing them into tiny locker rooms that a basketball team might find cozy. So many halftimes with players in those lockers “under” the concrete bleachers while coaches huddled outside to go over adjustments.
Now, the team rooms have been constructed for teams as big as, well, football teams.
“It’s a great facility,” Kizer said. “We finally have a place where we can bring the team in and talk to them. It’s like a regular old stadium now. I think it’s a better place for the fans, too. I think they did a great job.”
JaQuan Kelly-Thomas is a 2013 graduate of Fort Vancouver High School. He played football in the bowl.
“Seeing the new locker rooms, it’s a 180 from when I was a player,” Kelly-Thomas said. “I’m loving it.”
Since graduating, Kelly-Thomas has been a staple at Kiggins Bowl. First as a ticket taker, and ever since as the game manager at the venue.
That means he is there early to set up the field, the press box, and to be on-hand for whatever needs arise. He is there long after whatever contest is being played at the stadium comes to an end. Pretty much a first-one-there, last-to-leave job.
“Watching it grow from what it used to be to what it is now, it’s looking really nice,” Kelly-Thomas said.
The Kiggins Bowl scoreboard has logos from all four VPS high schools that compete in athletics. Again, Columbia River will return to its campus for home games. (But could return to Kiggins for playoff games.) Then there are Fort Vancouver, Hudson’s Bay, and Skyview..
Fort Vancouver and Hudson’s Bay host games in a Week 3 doubleheader at Kiggins for their home debuts in the stadium.
While Skyview played there Saturday, its first official home game at Kiggins will be in Week 4, Sept. 23 against Kamiak.
The venue still has that historic look. It was, after all, built in the 1930s. But it has a fresh look, and a new vibe.
“Thank God we’ve got something new, because it was really crappy,” Evans said with a laugh.
Not anymore, Ty.
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