Garfield Rooting Section’s Lost: They Have Spirit, but No Bleachers
Supporters of Garfield High School’s football team won’t be able to “stand and deliver” at home games this season.
The wooden bleachers at the East Los Angeles school, built in 1941, have been condemned as unsafe by Los Angeles school district officials, and Garfield has been forced to move its home games to other campuses. Friday night’s home opener against Marshall High School, for example, was moved to Wilson High School in El Sereno, a rival of Garfield’s. Garfield lost, 21-15.
The move might not be a major concern for some schools, but at Garfield, where the football team is a unifying symbol for the surrounding Latino neighborhoods, the news was greeted with horror.
“Can you imagine the Bulldogs having to play a home game at Wilson?” asked Garfield grad Miguel Vargas, a regular at Bulldog games. “I hate Wilson. I hated them when I was at Garfield and I hate them now.”
The turn of events is a serious blow for Garfield students and supporters, after a good year. Last year, the school won national fame for its advanced calculus program, taught by Jaime Escalante and chronicled in the film “Stand and Deliver.”
Vic Loya, one of the team’s head coaches, is more diplomatic than Vargas, but he is still crestfallen.
“I think the senoras , who always come to our games and even offer me a burrito, will think twice about coming,” Loya said.
The school, on 6th Street just west of Atlantic Boulevard, routinely draws 2,000 to 3,000 fans to home contests. And its annual showdown with archrival Roosevelt High School for bragging rights in East L.A. draws a capacity crowd each year at the 22,000-seat East Los Angeles College stadium.
Two home games will be shifted to Bell High School in Bell and a third will be moved to Jordan High School in Watts.
Garfield Principal Maria Elena Tosado said the decision to condemn the bleachers was made during the summer after an inspection showed that they were unsafe.
“The wood is so rotten that I’m afraid somebody would fall through the stands,” she said. “The main beams underneath also are unsafe.”
Tosado said she has asked the school district to replace the bleachers, which cost upwards of $110,000, by next September. But “they say they have no funding for it right now,” she said.
“We’ve got to have those stands next year,” she said. “It just won’t be the same. Garfield must play its home games at Garfield.”
Eagle Rock High School also is trying to contend with condemned bleachers, Tosado said, and Canoga Park and Venice High School have had similar problems in the past.