Renovated Peabody Stadium officially opens at Santa Barbara High
A giddy crowd of alumni, current students and faculty donning green and gold attire gathered at Santa Barbara High on Saturday evening to celebrate the dedication of the newly renovated Peabody Stadium.
The brand new, state-of-the-art stadium includes a track, turf field, grand stands and football tunnel, as well as new plazas honoring Santa Barbara alumni and local organizations who contributed to the project. The stadium was officially completed in 2020 after about two years of renovation, but COVID-19 restrictions postponed the dedication ceremony until Saturday.
Dozens of alumni attended Saturday’s dedication ceremony, including former NFL player Randall Cunningham, who graduated from Santa Barbara High in 1981 and went on to have a 16-year career in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles.
The brand new track inside the stadium has been named the Cunningham Track in honor of Randall and his brothers — Sam, Anthony and Bruce — who excelled in football and track during their years at Santa Barbara High.
As he stood in the new stadium, Mr. Cunningham told the News-Press that it brought back fond high school memories.
“The people behind it (the stadium) did an excellent job,” Mr. Cunningham told the News-Press. “It’s such an honor to be here today. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. It’s beautiful.”
“It makes me want to go play,” he added.
During the dedication ceremony, various members of the Santa Barbara Unified school board and administration spoke, as well as Greg Tebbe, the president of the Foundation for Santa Barbara High School.
Mr. Tebbe has been part of the renovation of the stadium since planning began in 2012. Standing in the completed stadium, Mr. Tebbe reflected on the long-term impact this new facility will have on students in years to come.
“This project benefits every child in our school, as well as our entire community,” Mr. Tebbe told the audience Saturday. “It’s not just about athletics. It’s about all the kids who pass through here and learn valuable lessons about friendship, teamwork, integrity and commitment.”
“This has got to be one of the most impressive track, field and stadium complexes at any high school anywhere in the country, and this is a facility that should last for the next 100 years,” Mr. Tebbe later added.
Various parts of the new stadium are named in honor of notable Santa Barbara figures and school alumni.
In addition to the Cunningham Track, the new Peter and Gerd Jordano Plaza is named after two Santa Barbara High alumni who are well-known philanthropists in the Santa Barbara Community. The couple was one of the first donors for the stadium renovation and played a leading role in rallying community support for the project.
When fans enter the stadium, they will also notice a new plaza recognizing all Santa Barbara High alumni who died serving their country in the armed forces. The new Doug and Ann Allred Veterans Memorial is placed in honor of those students and can be viewed when guests walk down the entrance ramp to the stadium.
In addition to these new plazas, the stadium features a new Hutton Parker Foundation Tunnel and MarBorg Industries Plaza in honor of two local organizations that helped to fund the stadium renovation.
Looking out over the new stadium, Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Hilda Maldonado told the News-Press that she can already picture future generations of students flourishing in the new facility.
“I imagine some world class athletes like we’ve already had, and I also just see the students feeling honored and respected in terms of providing the students a place that is just beautiful,” Ms. Maldonado said. “So I think (the new stadium) sends a message to students that you are valued, you’re important, and you know, we care about you enough to do something like this. So I just see kids flourishing, kids really being connected to their community here.”
Saturday’s ceremony was also exciting for alumnus Bill Oakley, a graduate of the Santa Barbara High class of 1958. Four generations of his family have passed through the high school, including his father, his son and daughter and his grandson.
Standing inside the new stadium, Mr. Oakley said he would’ve loved to play in the new stadium when he was a student. During his time at Santa Barbara High, he was involved in football, basketball and baseball.
Looking towards the future, Mr. Oakley said he is excited for the legacy future students will carry on in the new facility.
“They’re playing in a place that has a big history to it,” Mr. Oakley told the News-Press. “I think the history (of the stadium) is something that they carry with them — at least it has with me. And now they’ve got an opportunity to play in a wonderful facility and carry on the tradition.”