With balloons, marching bands and cheerleaders, Saturday’s celebration at John Burroughs High School’s Memorial Field in Burbank might have been mistaken for a homecoming game. But the celebration was for something much more important – the long-awaited dedication of the rebuilt athletic facility, a $12.2 million project that had been in planning stages for at least a decade.
The new Memorial Field includes a football field, bleachers, lighting and a rubberized track and will be shared by Burbank and Bellarmine-Jefferson high schools for home football games.
Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes talked during his remarks about his memories on that field and said that home was where challenges are worked through and where residents celebrate themselves.
“Home is Burbank,” Talamantes said.
Following 14 months of construction, the dedication ceremony included a flyover, presentation of colors by members of the U.S. Marine Corps, and the singing of the national anthem by the John Burroughs and Burbank high school choirs.
As part of the celebration, a sculpture titled “Home,” by local artist Shiela Cavalluzzi, was unveiled in the newly minted Cusumano Plaza at the John Burroughs campus’ main entrance.
Memorial Field is a joint project of the Burbank Unified School District and city of Burbank.
Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Stan Carrizosa was among representatives from the school district.
“We’re working hard together to make a better community,” Carrizosa said.
City Manager Mike Flad, a 1984 Burroughs graduate, was the last speaker and joked that after a “heart-breaking loss” to Burbank High School his senior year, he vowed to tear the stadium down.
Then, more serious, Flad said that the partnerships and planning that made the new stadium and field a reality also saved tax payer money and helped bring such facilities to residents.
Senior Anna Mirabal, 18, a member of the John Burroughs cheerleading squad, said being on hand for the event was important to her.
“It definitely matters to me because we’re going to graduate on this field, and we wanted to be able to graduate on this field, and not at the Starlight Bowl.”
As for sharing the field with other Burbank schools, Mirabal didn’t seem to mind, and said it was “a community thing.”
Attendees were encouraged to take a victory lap around the track after the ribbon cutting — but not if they were wearing high-heeled shoes, which could have damaged the new track surface.
Residents, city and school officials soon gathered on the track, students posed for pictures on the field and many others walked under the bleachers, looking into a new concession stand.
Resident Marisa Tambornini, who lives several blocks away from the school, attended the ceremony with her young daughter.
“I like to support the high school, and I’m excited about the field being built,” Tambornini said. “I was just saying to my husband that the work flew by. It didn’t seem like it took very long at all for what it looks like – it’s pretty amazing.”