Having a field day: Cleveland ISD opens new sports complex

Cleveland ISD's board of trustees and school officials took part in Saturday's grand opening of the Hal McClelland Sports Complex, located next to the high school football stadium. Pictured left to right are School Board members Chris Wood, Robert Howell, Aaron Montesnieto, Marvin Searles, Sr., School Board Vice President Kelly Axton, School Board Secretary Amanda Brooks, School Board President Willie Carter, Superintendent Stephen McCanless, Head Softball Coach Alyssa Hollie, Head Baseball Coach Matthew Mitchell and Athletic Director Jason Fiacco.

Cleveland High School’s standout athletes have a new facility for softball and baseball games with the opening of the new Hal McClelland Sports Complex, located at the high school next to the football stadium.

The grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 22, was officiated by Cleveland ISD Superintendent Stephen McCanless, who explained that the facility is named for the late Hal McClelland. A 1973 graduate of Cleveland High School, McClelland devoted countless hours tending to the old baseball and softball fields that fronted SH 321 (Houston Street) despite living in Austin and working as the field coordinator for the University of Texas Woman’s Softball Complex for 23 years.

The $198 million bond passed by voters in 2019, which funded the new sports complex, also provided for renovations at Northside Elementary and construction of two new elementary campuses, a new middle school and a teacher learning center-administrative office.

Hal Crosby McClelland

McClelland died in September 2019, but at the grand opening of the facility on Saturday, he was present both in memory and spirit. Hal’s wife, Gina, and sister, Sue McClelland Hayes, listened as Cleveland ISD board trustees and coaches shared some of their remembrances.

“Hal’s dedication and the special place that this community held in his heart for his lifetime is something to respect and admire. I hope one day, as I get older and move through life, that I can embody some of what he has shown me about how much he valued, not just this town, but the people within it, especially our students and athletes,” said Board Trustee Robert Howell.

As a kid growing up in Cleveland, Howell recalls seeing McClelland and another beloved Cleveland ISD coach, the late Norris Taff, a lot around the Circle Drive neighborhood they shared.

“Me and my friends in the neighborhood had countless basketball games on the court that the McClellands had in our neighborhood. Hal was a fan and a spectator at those games. I had the benefit of knowing him as a kid and an adult. It’s been quite a ride. Most of my friends who grew up in that neighborhood have gotten into that profession as coaches and educators, and played sports, so we have a lot of fond memories of Hal and Coach Taff,” Howell said.

The new sports complex features a softball and baseball fields. Each has synthetic turf, state-of-the-art lighting, a press box and built-in dugouts, two sets of bleachers and high fencing for errant balls. The fields share a concession stand and restrooms.

The fields are something of which Cleveland residents should be proud, said Athletic Director Jason Fiacco at the grand opening.

“Every school district wants good facilities. They want something that is special and can be proud of. When I was walking up to this facility today, I was thinking, ‘Mission accomplished,'” Fiacco said. “This really is something special and it’s a testament to our trustees, the school administration and this community because this has been years in the planning. I was lucky enough to be a part of those meetings and saw how much time was put into every single detail.”

Fiacco said the new sports complex will draw people to Cleveland.

“People who don’t know Cleveland or haven’t been to Cleveland in a while, they can come and take a look at this, and see what we have going on. They will see how special this community is and how the community has taken the next step in taking care of their kids,” Fiacco said.

Fiacco’s comments echoed what Board President Willie Carter said in opening comments at the grand opening. Carter told the 100 or so people gathered that the Board worked hard to give this opportunity to the students.

“We have some players – baseball and softball – that we think are going to make it to the big leagues,” said Carter, adding later, “We are praying for you and hoping you enjoy this facility. To the community, we thank you for all you have done and the support you have given to this facility.”

According to Superintendent McCanless and Board Trustee Chris Wood, one of the options being considered for the old baseball and softball fields is to use the land for a Career and Technical Education (CTE) campus.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The $198 million bond passed by voters in 2019, which funded the new sports complex. They lied and told us they needed classes for kids but we now see what they really wanted

  2. The $198 million dollar bond was used to build two new elementary schools and a middle school as well. I’m assuming you don’t have children in the district, so I’m happy to provide you with the correct information.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.