Mesa to unveil new stadium


One of the reasons Glen Fisher said he took the coaching job at Costa Mesa High 1 1/2 years ago was because of the school’s plans to build an on-campus football stadium with lights.

Fisher came from Beckman, which didn’t have such an on-site facility. When he coached at the school in Irvine, the team used Tustin High as its home field.

“Beckman was never going to get a stadium,” said Fisher, who spent eight years at the school, the first six as an assistant coach and the last two as the head coach.


In Fisher’s second year in charge of Costa Mesa, he won’t have to get his players on a bus for a home game.

For the first time in Costa Mesa’s history, its football team will play night games at home. The newly built $11-million Mustangs Field opens Friday at 7 p.m., and Jake Haley, the school’s principal, is expecting a sold-out crowd of 1,000 for the game against Santiago.

“What a game-changer for our students and our community,” said Haley, adding that the home side accommodates 700 fans and the visitor side 300. “It’s such a cool facility to really kind of just highlight all the different events, from marching band, to football, to soccer, to our wonderful track [and field] and cross-country programs, and our award-winning cheer program.

“I would really give credit to … the school board, [its] vision. They’re the ones who really make the vote and make the decision that … this is what we’re going to do for our schools and do for our kids. I think it really starts there, as well, you know, the Costa Mesa community.”

Haley said the stadium’s grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony won’t take place on Friday, but it will before the program’s homecoming game against Laguna Beach on Oct. 14. The facility features a synthetic field, a scoreboard, a press box and a concession stand.

Katrina Foley, an ardent supporter of bringing a stadium to Costa Mesa, said the community has been waiting around eight years since she first proposed and helped set up a city-schools committee to build the stadium.

“The stadium looks amazing, except for the lack of seating which will become very obvious soon and hopefully be cured before track season,” Foley, a Costa Mesa councilwoman and the president of the Mustang Football Boosters, said in a text. “We are so appreciative of the efforts by the district to open the stadium in time for the first home game. Our players have anxiously watched the stadium being built all summer.

“For the last four years, the current juniors and seniors have played on horrible substandard fields not fit for conditioning and competition with shin high grass, mud puddles, and gopher holes.”

Those conditions no longer exist, and the Mustangs no longer have to share a stadium, something they have done with rival Estancia at Jim Scott Stadium since 2008. Before that, Costa Mesa played home night games at Newport Harbor’s Davidson Field and Orange Coast College’s LeBard Stadium.

Wally Grant remembers those days of having to travel for home contests. He played at Costa Mesa and coached at the school, both as an assistant and head coach. He was on the staff during Costa Mesa’s best season in 1993, when it reached the CIF Southern Section Division VIII title game, the program’s lone section finals appearance.

“I think anything that helps improve [the] CMHS community image and has the ability to keep local area athletes at CMHS is a great addition to the campus,” said Grant, a 1983 graduate who is entering his second year coaching the running backs at Orange Coast College. “I will not be able to make it this week as I have recruiting obligations. I will try and make a game there later on this season.”