DENVER (CBS4) – A pitch to renovate the baseball field at a high school in southwest Denver is turning into an out.

“It is a disappointment,” said Ron Gallegos, a parent at John F. Kennedy High School. “We were under the impression it was going to be a really nice facility.”

About a year ago the Denver public high school was given a legacy grant from Major League Baseball and the Colorado Rockies to upgrade the field because it was deemed unsafe and unplayable. The grant was given when Denver was selected last minute to host the 2021 MLB All-Star Game. The $5 million grant was to be divided amongst several schools for upgrades, including Kennedy. And while renovations started at the Kennedy, they were never finished.

(credit: CBS)

“The community was kind of promised something and it just never got fulfilled,” Gallegos said.

Parents and coaches said a home game hasn’t been played at the school for about 3 years, but a Commanders Baseball Facebook page does show the team celebrating a home game on the field on Sept. 15. While students are able to practice at the field occasionally, coaches said they can’t host games because it’s unsafe for other teams, which means parents are left hauling their students back and forth to different schools for each game. Gallegos and other parents who did not want to be on camera told CBS4 the field still has holes, water flooding the pitcher’s mound and bases that aren’t properly spaced. The school district did confirm the field has sod and drainage issues.

“It scares me,” said Gallegos. “What scares me about it is the injury possibility.”

CBS4 reach out to the school district about the issues with the field. Scott Pribble, spokesman for Denver Public Schools, said they are just as confused as to why the project wasn’t finished, and they’re still trying to piece together what happened.

“There has been some confusion within the district as to what is causing the problems that are happening here,” Pribble said.

(credit: CBS)

Pribble said the district hired a reputable contractor to do the job. Originally a district spokesperson told CBS4 the contractor was DuraEdge, but on Thursday they clarified that they misspoke, and said the original contractor was Golf and Sport Solutions. While they couldn’t tell us how much the contractor was paid, they did get a payout.

“The money was spent in the right way, the concern we have is maybe the work was done too quickly,” he said.

Pribble said a job of this size normally takes 11-14 weeks, but because of the MLB All-Star Game, that timeline was rushed. When CBS4 asked Pribble why the district thought they could finish a job that takes nearly three months in just one month Pribble said “I don’t have an answer to that.”

Pribble acknowledged there were issues with the completion of the project but he couldn’t give any specifics on what the issues were or who or what DPS departments were involved in the failure of the project. The district also could not tell CBS4 who cut the check to the contractor or how much the contractor was paid for the unfinished job, but said the funds from the grant are gone.

“I’m not going into the specifics,” said Pribble. “It’s people within the district that are working on this project.”

While the district doesn’t want to focus on who to blame, Kennedy parents said it’s the slap in the face not only to students, but the entire southwest Denver community, where a large percentage of the students are Hispanic.

“I hope it’s not a racially bias thing that they’re doing,” Gallegos said. “I hope that’s not the reason, I hope it’s an oversight by someone on the inside.”

The district is now looking at its athletic budgets to see where they can get the money to finish the project. The district hopes to have a playable field by fall. CBS4 reached out to MLB and DuraEdge for comment, but they did not reply to our request.

Marissa Armas