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Project could cost $6.9M; aiming for 2015
Concept art for the planned $6.9M stadium at East Union High. - photo by Image Contributed


• WHAT: East Union stadium renovation. Athletic director J.J. Ramirez and track coach Todd Dunaway are leading a campaign to modernize Dino Cunial Stadium by the fall of 2015.
• COST: Renovation would cost an estimated $4.1-$6.5 million. Design provided by Verde Design (Folsom).
• DONATIONS:  If you’d like to make a contribution or inquire more about the project, e-mail

Todd Dunaway has a vision and it doesn’t include his best athletes in swimsuits, street clothes or casts.

The East Union track and field coach is the driving force behind a full-scale, multi-million dollar renovation effort of the school’s football stadium.

Dunaway would like to see Dino Cunial Stadium – a facility shared by the football, track and field and boys and girls soccer programs – make a modern leap, joining Sierra, Oakdale and Kimball as Valley Oak League schools with an all-weather track.

East Union has already secured plans from a Sacramento-area firm whose major upgrades would include the installation of an all-weather track, synthetic playing field and the option for a fieldhouse.

“Honestly,” Dunaway started, “the motivation is that we’re tired of running on a dirt track. We want an all-weather track. In the Valley Oak League, we have Sierra, Kimball and Oakdale that have all-weather surfaces, and we’re jealous.”

Verde Designs has supplied the school with the two conceptual designs – one that includes a $2.4 million fieldhouse and one without. Dunaway estimates it would cost roughly $4.1 million to $6.5 million to bring the school’s vision to life.

The target date is the fall of 2015, when this year’s freshmen are seniors.

“We’re in the trying-to-get-it-started phase,” East Union athletic director J.J. Ramirez said. “We do have plans drawn up and that’s a start for us. Our next step is trying to get private sponsors in the community.”

Mondo track world class

The plans would make Dino Cunial Field the jewel among Manteca Unified high schools.

Based upon the initial design, the all-weather track would be a Mondo surface and would have a color scheme unique to the high school. The surface would be red with a blue exchange zone. All the runways – long jump, triple jump and high jump – would also be blue.

Lettering and logos would adorn the synthetic field, and the plan calls for new lighting and upkeep to existing buildings.

The fieldhouse, Ramirez said, would be used primarily by the football program and feature two teams rooms, a coaches’ office and restroom.

Many of the upgrades, particularly the Mondo track surface, were gleaned from a walk-through of Stockton Unified schools.

Dunaway visited the Edison High facility shortly after its completion and came away completely sold on Mondo, a world-class surface used at the CIF State Championships.

Stockton Unified has three Mondo tracks with plans to add a fourth. Delta College also has Mondo, renowned for its performance, life cycle and cost. Mondo tracks typically cost 20-30 percent more than a polyurethane surface, according to Verde Design employee and former Mondo West Coast rep Ron Edwards.

 “We’re familiar with Sierra’s and Kimball’s and Oakdale’s tracks because we run on them every year. Their (tracks) are polyurethane,” Dunaway said. “We want a Mondo surface, which the last 10 Summer Olympics have run on. Arguably, Mondo is the best. It costs more in initial outlay, but Mondo is the longer-lasting track.”

It certainly beats dirt.

The pains of running on dirt surface taunt Dunaway and Ramirez on a daily basis.

There are no drains, Dunaway said, so standing water creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects.

His athletes regularly battle shin splits and sprains caused by running on a hard, uneven surface.

He’s even lost one athlete to another sport.

Senior Collin Scholl took up swimming this spring because his legs could no longer absorb the stress of running on East Union’s dirt track.

Scholl ran the 100-, 200- and 400-meter sprints. He also competed in the long and triple jump, as well as 300-meter hurdles in three varsity seasons.

He swims now.

“He can’t run because of injuries,” Dunaway said. “… We’d rather have him on the track team and not swimming. But I’m glad he’s doing something athletic.”

Plans, people in place

Scholl’s injuries motivated Dunaway and Scholl’s father, Manteca Unified Board of Trustees president Don Scholl, to look into alternative measures nearly three years ago.

The two began a running dialogue with Edwards, a former director of facilities with San Jose Unified who oversaw $100 million in upgrades.

His intimate knowledge of stadium design and artificial surfaces have helped shaped East Union’s wish list.

“I’m amped,” Dunaway said. “We’ve been talking about this for nearly three years and we’ve finally come to a point that we have preliminary plans in hand. It’s exciting to see what the project would look like when it’s done.”

East Union has a firm grasp on reality. Plans in hand are one thing. Executing those plans will be a much more daunting task, one that will require the work of many.

The Lancers have solicited the help of Dino Cunial and Joe Pellegrino to head up their informal committee, and student volunteers will begin putting together media packets with the conceptual design in the coming weeks.

“They wanted to get something of value to take to donors and those that want to participate in the improvement,” Edwards said. “We’ve done hundreds of these and it’s been our experience that that’s how you move forward.”

Pellegrino is a proven fund-raiser. In the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, he raised $60,000 in less than three months for the flags and poles for the Flags over Manteca program.

“We’re seeing what the other schools have and we want to bring together the community and the school,” Ramirez said. “This would separate us from the rest of the schools. It’s something to hang our hat on.”