Contractors involved in the renovation project for Santa Barbara High School’s Peabody Stadium are hopeful that the project will be completed by November.
The Santa Barbara Unified School District issued an update to the $39 million renovation project Wednesday morning.
As reported in Wednesday’s News-Press, the stadium was expected to reopen in August for the kickoff of the 2019 football season. The Dons were set to host Buena when the schedule was released in May, but instead will now travel to Ventura for the Aug. 23 season opener.
Santa Barbara will be playing its ‘home’ games for the 2019 season at San Marcos and Dos Pueblos high schools.
Dons coach J.T. Stone said he knew the delay was a possibility but nothing was made official until the last week or so. He said it was tough breaking the news to his players.
“It’s hard to explain something like that to a bunch of kids,” he said when reached by phone. “They anticipated they would be playing there. It is what it is.”
Mr. Stone said the team will use this as motivation, being able to display their talents throughout the South Coast as they try to have a successful season.
Last season, due to the renovation project, the Dons played their home football games at Santa Barbara City College.
“We all understand that this is a large, complicated project and we’re all just looking forward to this being the best high school stadium and track & field facility in town,” Santa Barbara High Principal Elise Simmons said in a statement. “It’s going to be the best of the best, and we want to get it right.”
Despite the delay, officials say the construction project is “still fiscally on target.”
“Actually, the project is on track to be completed under budget,” Steve Vizzolini, director of facilities and modernization for the district, said in a statement.
The district has approved $39 million in funding for the project.
The latest delay is being attributed to “a series of complications associated with lost time during the heavy rainy season earlier this year,” Mr. Vizzolini said.
In addition, there has been an issue placing the foundation supporting the turf field. A state inspection will also be needed on the elevator that will take visitors to stadium seating and the press box.
“That elevator inspection is slated for early November, which is the earliest the state can get here,” Mr. Vizzolini said. “All of that has to be approved before we can allow the public to access the facilities.”
The project includes a new 2,300-seat concrete grandstand with a press box, new retaining walls to expand the playing field and track areas, a California Interscholastic Federation regulation track and artificial turf, and modernized sound and lighting systems.
“Construction crews have been working all summer to move the project forward as swiftly as possible,” Camie Barnwell, spokeswoman for the district, said in the update.
The project is being funded by the Foundation for Santa Barbara High School, private donations, state funding and local bond measures, officials said.
Kate Jacobs, a parent of a Santa Barbara High graduate and former director of development for the Foundation for SBHS, said the disruption to the football season is a “small price to pay” for the ultimate community benefits.
“Santa Barbara High hasn’t hosted a track meet since the 1980s, so waiting another few months is a small inconvenience,” Ms. Jacobs said in a statement. “Hopefully the community will understand that when you dig into structure or sites that haven’t been touched since 1924, nearly 100 years, there are bound to be some complications. I think the whole neighborhood is looking forward to using and enjoying the new improved track and field.”
District officials initially projected the stadium opening in April. Contracts were awarded in July 2017 and a groundbreaking ceremony was held in August 2017. In March, officials announced the project was behind schedule and targeted August for the opening.