The reconstruction of Santa Barbara High School’s Peabody Stadium is finally coming full circle.
Workers have begun laying down the track oval — the last major hurdle to completing the $39 million project.
“The work began this week with the application of self-leveling material to eliminate even the tiniest imperfections,” said Steve Vizzolini, the director of Facilities and Modernization for the Santa Barbara Unified School District. “They are now working on the ‘D’s’ at the ends of the field where the shot put, high jump, and other track and field events are held, and on the beginning of the straight section for the 100-meter dash.
“Following that will be the main track, and then striping.”
The lanes are of alternating colors of olive and gold, which have long been the Santa Barbara High School colors.
“We expect the track to be completed by the end of the month,” Vizzolini said.
The remodeled stadium features a 2,300-seat, concrete grandstand and press box that add to the 1,110 aluminum seats that were added to the visitor’s side a quarter-century ago.
The grass field has been replaced with synthetic turf. Other portions of the project include new lighting and sound systems, as well as storm drains to service the surrounding neighborhoods.
A ground-breaking ceremony was held on Aug. 23, 2017 after the Foundation for Santa Barbara High School raised $5 million for the new stadium. More than 800 donors contributed. The remainder of the funding has come from Measure Q2010 bonds, developer fees and state seismic mitigation funds.
The danger posed by earthquakes had made replacing the crumbling, old, concrete stadium a priority of school officials for many years.
The original Peabody Stadium was built in 1924 through a donation from Arrow Shirt mogul Frederick Forrest Peabody. Ironically, it was pressed into service just eight months after its completion when a 6.8-magnitude earthquake destroyed downtown Santa Barbara. A company of U.S. Marines that had been deployed to prevent looting bivouacked there for several weeks.
In 1937, the stadium played host to its first California Interscholastic Federation Southern California championship football game in which Santa Barbara lost to Glendale, 15-14.
The Dons, who have five CIF football titles to their credit, had to play last year’s CIF Division 8 final at San Marcos High’s Warkentin Stadium.
The last football game at the old Peabody Stadium was played on Oct. 7, 2016.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the CIF to delay the start of its next football season until January. The Dons are scheduled to make their grand entrance at the new Peabody Stadium on Jan. 8 against St. Joseph’s High.