AP NEWS

City celebrates completion of Firebird Field

April 6, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — The field is ready, which was cause for celebration in Bullhead City.

City officials, representatives from Fiesta Bowl Charities and the BHHS Legacy Foundation were joined by members of the public recently to mark completion of the installation of new turf at Firebird Field in Rotary Park.

It’s not just any new turf, either. It was the turf used at Chase Field in Phoenix for the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl in December. On the same field — well, turf, anyway — where Texas Christian and California played, members of the Bullhead City Firebirds of the American Youth Football program will be playing in the future. So will members of area American Youth Soccer Organization teams.

The turf was delivered to Bullhead City in late December, shipped by more than a dozen trucks in rolls, and was installed by city recreation department employees and a work detail of inmates from the Mohave County Adult Detention Center in Kingman.

“It’s such an incredible opportunity, because it’s not the kind of investment we would have been able to make if the Fiesta Bowl Legacy Project didn’t come along,” said David Heath, the Bullhead City Parks & Recreation Superintendent.

Keeping a good stand of grass at Firebird Field had long been a perplexing problem for local officials. The high content of clay in the soil foiled previous attempts to plant grass; the field also didn’t drain well and irrigation attempts also failed to remedy the situation.

“That field has been, without a doubt, the most difficult piece of land on which to grow grass in our city’s history,” Heath said.

Now, the city doesn’t need to worry about raising the grass from seed. After about four feet of soil was dug out and replaced with soil more conducive for the growing of grass, the Cheez-It Bowl turf was brought in, a top dressing was laid over it and the whole field was given more than two months to get established.

“We pride ourselves in our park system and how great our parks and our fields are,” Heath said. “We’re bringing this field up to par with what we have in our whole park system, and it’ll be the best thing we have in our parks system now. It went from being the worst to being the best.”

That was music to the ears of Jose Moreno, vice president of community relations and marketing for the Fiesta Bowl. Fiesta Bowl Charities operates both the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl in Glendale and the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix. The Phoenix game is played in the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“We have this beautiful turf that we bring in to transform Chase Field’s baseball diamond into a football field. Rather than just tossing it, we recycle it and donate to somebody in need,” Moreno said.

Fiesta Bowl Charities donated three previous fields to Arizona communities in Maryville, Avondale and Laveen. This year, Bullhead City was chosen after Fiesta Bowl representatives became aware of the need — and the cooperative effort by the city, the Legacy Foundation and other partners that included the Firebirds, AYSO, Los Matadores, the Boys & Girls CLubs of the Colorado River and the Bullhead City Rotary Club, to make the project work.

“It was a no-brainer when we started to do the due diligence of the need of that community,” Moreno said.

“We’re pretty excited to have it,” Heath said. “I’m very happy for the Firebirds, that they’ll have such a beautiful place to play their games.”

The new field improvements also include a custom electronic scoreboard and repairs to bleachers, goalposts and a new sound system.

While Fiesta Bowl Charities and the BHHS Legacy Foundation did most of the heavy financial lifting, the other groups pitched in as well.

“The community support for this project has been great,” City Manager Toby Cotter said. “We could not have completed this project without the Legacy Foundation, Fiesta Bowl Charities and our local sports organizations.“

Heath said the improvements at Firebird Field — following construction of new baseball and softball fields, a pickleball and tennis complex and other amenities at Rotary Park — fit with the city vision of promoting sports tourism.

“Sport tourism works well in this community,” Heath said. “We’re probably going to promote more of that. It’s going to be great for our locals as well. They have a perfect place on which to practice and play games and we’re pretty excited for them.”

Moreno said the future of the field now is in the hands of Bullhead City and those who use it.

“You never know, a future Heisman Trophy winner might come from someone who plays on this field, someone who may not have had an opportunity otherwise,” Moreno said.

Daily News editor Bill McMillen and reporters Rodd Cayton and Terri Harber contributed to this report.