FEMA approves $26.2M to rebuild Félix Millán stadium in Yabucoa
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it has awarded nearly $26.2 million to the municipality of Yabucoa to rebuild the Félix “Nacho” Millán baseball stadium. This obligation is an addition to the more than $41 million that has been allocated to the municipality to date for 61 other permanent work projects.
“This obligation marks a vital moment for the municipality’s recover. This, not only at the sports and culture level, but as it relates to the social fiber of the residents of Yabucoa and its integral recovery, which is part of our commitment to the municipalities,” said FEMA’s Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator, José G. Baquero.
Located in the Aguacate neighborhood and built in 1995, this stadium is part of the Double-A Superior Baseball League and home of the municipality’s Double-A baseball team, the Yabucoa
Azucareros. The facility, which has concrete bleachers with 4,000 seats and includes a two-story structure with 40 rooms/offices, is also used for activities and large events.
Due to the severity of the damage to the structure, the federal funds are earmarked for the demolition and replacement of the stadium. According to the municipality, a pre-bid has already taken place for the demolition of the facility, which is expected to be completed by mid-December.
“I want to thank first God and all the people who made this obligation possible, such as FEMA personnel, COR3, the FEMA Branch Office in Caguas, our engineers and municipal personnel, among others,” said Yabucoa Mayor Rafael Surillo-Ruíz.
“We’re very happy in Yabucoa with the reconstruction of the Félix Millán Park because this represents overcoming Hurricane María,” the mayor said.
Some of the work to be performed includes replacing all exterior components, ceilings, columns, benches and electrical, air conditioning and lighting systems. The same will be done with the contents of the structure, including computers, chairs, the box office, and sound equipment, among others.
“We’re passionate about baseball in our town and it will be an important asset in the future commitments of our organizations,” said the Yabucoa Azucareros team owner Enrique Díaz-Lozada.
“Sports are the soul of the people and a town without sports is a town without a soul,” he said.
The obligation includes nearly $2 million for hazard mitigation measures to prevent similar damage to the structure in the event of another disaster. Some of this work includes improving the fastening of metal panels, adding steel reinforcing fibers to the concrete to improve load-bearing capacity, and installing a surge protector for the generator, among others.
“This will allow the development of a modern, resilient and safe infrastructure, in accordance with current construction codes, for the enjoyment of Yabucoa residents,” Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3) Executive Director Manuel Laboy, adding “this is one of the most awaited projects by the Yabucoa Azucareros fans.”
“For the past months, COR3 team has worked together with the municipality and FEMA to move the process forward and obligate the project,” said Laboy, who stressed that COR3’s commitment is to continue supporting the development of the project until it comes to fruition.