One month away from the long-awaited Super Bowl game in the San Francisco 49ers’ home stadium, the NFL has taken control of the neighboring Santa Clara Youth Soccer Complex that lies in the shadows of Levi Stadium. In order to set up a ‘media village’ for the Super Bowl, the high quality fields will be demolished or covered as thousands of spectators use the platform throughout the event. The fields are to be returned after the Super Bowl, but many question if they will endure the heavy traffic and partial destruction.
The Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park is home to the Santa Clara Sporting Club (SCSC), a prestigious youth soccer club that fields a total of 28 teams and approximately 600 players, as well as the Santa Clara Youth Soccer league (SCYSL), which hosts a total of 1600 players. Active teams will have to relocate for their upcoming games and practices, yet the city has not provided them with the appropriate locations for every team.
On December 5, construction crews began to dig holes and to cover the two well-kept natural grass fields. They began this work without access to the field, according to the Santa Clara Sporting twitter page. The SCYCL demanded an emergency hearing and filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the city of Santa Clara for closing the park without first holding a public hearing.
— David Louie (@abc7david) January 5, 2016
Ultimately, the court did not accept the suit and allowed the construction crews to continue working until a decision is reached in another court case scheduled for Monday, January 11. The court’s rejection of a temporary restraining order (TRO) further frustrated both the players and SCYSL organizers.
SCYSL has reached out to the community for its support by creating a petition asking for a city that is “managed by an honest, transparent, and trustworthy government, not an NFL franchise.” Furthermore, SCYSL claims that the media outlet will pose a significant expense in its construction, a burden that will subsequently be placed on the taxpayers of Santa Clara.
Raul Rangel plays for an under-17 Santa Clara Sporting Club team, and shared how the Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park played a role in the identity of the club.
“These fields were special to me and to everyone in our club. We have made so many memories on these fields and everyone at Santa Clara Sporting worked hard to maintain the fields at the world-class condition they are known for. It will affect not only my team but all of our club because these fields became a part of who we are.”
According to the petition created by the SCYSL, officials say the fields will be returned in nine months; such a long period of time may leave the teams of Santa Clara without a field to play on.
“I don’t think that the NFL was right to do this. The fields have been there longer than the stadium. We witnessed for two years the stadium being built and I honestly feel like they disrespected us,” said Rangel.
On January 11, the Santa Clara City Council will reconvene to discuss the outcome of the event.
Check back for updates on this developing story.