Stadium still standing

Burbank Leader

BURBANK — Burroughs High football Coach Keith Knoop realized his team would have to make do without a home field for the 2010 season.

The coach was told the renovation project to construct a new stadium, running track and football field on the school's Memorial Field site would begin the first week of June.

With his team being displaced for a project that would last past the 2010 campaign, Knoop and the Burroughs administrators had to schedule all the Indians' 10 home games on the road.

Burbank Coach Hector Valencia and the Bulldogs were in the same boat, as the team also uses Memorial Field as their home venue.

Having resigned themselves — and their teams — to their fate for the upcoming season, the coaches were floored when they were told last month that the construction project would be delayed.

According to the Burbank Unified School District, construction of the project isn't expected to begin until late November or early December.

"With the delay, that means that we are going to have to play most of our games on the road for two seasons now instead of just one," Knoop said. "If we had our way, we would have liked the construction to begin [this month], so it could get finished earlier."

Knoop said he was able to get three Pacific League games — against Glendale, Arcadia and Burbank — moved back to Memorial Field. However, the other seven contests will be on the road.

"With next year included, that means that essentially we'll have 17 games on the road," Knoop said. "And that doesn't even include playoff games."

Valencia was equally frustrated with the delay. His team had to deal with displacement a year ago when construction was underway on Burbank's new field and running track.

Along with the rivalry game with the Indians, Valencia said the Bulldogs have convinced two league opponents to play at Memorial Field next season.

"It's disappointing, because we expected the construction to start right after the school year was over," Valencia said. "Now they're telling us that there's going to be another delay? That's just not right."

Valencia said the delay is going to cost the program, and the district, more money.

"Because we scheduled all those games on the road next year, that's going to cost us more money," he said. "It's expensive to bus kids to games. It costs $270 an hour for a bus, and we have to pay that now for road games that we could have played at home."

Believing that their field would be inoperative for the upcoming season, Burbank and Burroughs signed contracts with nonleague schools to play three games on the road.

The Indians will play games away against former Foothill League rivals Saugus, Canyon and Hart. Knoop said he tried to get the schools to switch and play at Memorial Field, but to no avail.

"You think that being old league teams they would do that for us," he said. "But they said they already signed contracts and they have things planned for those home games."

If the construction does get underway later this year, that would force Burroughs and Burbank to be displaced for two seasons — at the least.

The Indians have the added headache of finding a place to practice during the construction.

But for many — like Valencia — who have been waiting for a new venue to finally be constructed, they are bracing for another delay. They aren't convinced in the least that work will be started in November or December.

"Who knows," Valencia said. "We just want it to get done and we're hoping that they are going to do a good job when they do finally build it."

The district estimates the construction to take 12-14 months to complete. The project consists of a new football field with artificial turf, rubberized track surface and new stadium seating. In addition, new lighting, landscaping, ticket booths, fencing, signage, restrooms and concession stands under the bleachers will also be a part of the project.

There will also be two new plaza entrances that will be built on both sides of the stadium.

The estimated cost of the project is more than $12 million, with the majority of funds coming from the city of Burbank.

Since the 1940s, Memorial Field has served as the home venue for the Indians, as well as Burbank High. In recent years, even Bellarmine-Jefferson has called its cozy confines home.

The field has been the home of the Big Game rivalry between Burroughs and Burbank for more than 60 years.

The rivalry began in 1949, when All-American Paul Cameron and Pere LiPera — who would later become the Burbank coach — led the Bulldogs to a 12-7 win against Burroughs, which had been converted from a junior high.

The Indians got revenge the next year, however, as Louis Elias waded through "Lake Memorial" on a 41-yard carry for the game's only score, as the Indians won, 6-0.

When the Bulldogs defeated the Indians, 28-21, last year, it was supposed to be the final Big Game rivalry game at the old stadium. However, with the current delays, the teams will go at again in November at Memorial Field.

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