A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but Shakespearean logic doesn’t apply when you’re raising money for a sports stadium.
That name might need a price tag to get the job done.
Those seeking to name the track at Santa Barbara High’s new Peabody Stadium after former coach Bill Crow are discovering this the hard way. The reconstruction of the 95-year-old facility is expected to be completed in the coming months.
At Dos Pueblos High, meanwhile, a petition drive is underway to collect signatures in support of naming the new track at Scott O’Leary Stadium after former coach Gordon McClenathen. (Online signatures are being taken at https://forms.gle/Kv7zEUfwNSWXrq567).
It may take some dollar-signs, however, for Crow’s Crew to succeed.
Tony Miratti, Santa Barbara Class of 1964, said naming the track in honor of his late coach would be “a fitting tribute to Bill and a legacy of excellence that will inspire the track coach at SBHS to become the next coach Crow.”
The coaching career that Crow forged at his alma mater from 1949 to 1975 was worthy of induction into the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Hall of Fame. He posted a dual-meet record of 164-24-3 and, during one incredible stretch, won 103 consecutive meets.
His program became so popular, Miratti said, that “it was not unusual for the track team to have 80 to 100 members.”
Crow’s Dons won 11 championships during the first 17 track seasons of the Channel League.
His pioneering success, however, is only partly why Miratti started his grass-roots effort. It was Crow, after all, who spearheaded the 95-year-old stadium’s first renovation project.
“He managed to upgrade the Peabody Stadium dirt track to a then state-of-the-art, asphalt track with funds he procured privately and quietly,” Miratti said. “To keep the grass from growing into the dirt track, he personally dug a trench around the entire track and placed a 2×4, wooden barrier at his own expense, on his own time.”
Crow, who also started the school’s cross country program in 1952, continued his service to the Dons even after his retirement from coaching and teaching in 1975. He was known as “the Golden Throat of Peabody Stadium” during the many years he served as the public address announcer at football games.
He passed away at age 90 in 2005.
But the Foundation for Santa Barbara High School, in its quest to raise $5 million privately for the $39 million stadium project, had already put a price tag of $500,000 to name the track.
It’s already secured $250,000 apiece for the Gerd and Pete Jordano Plaza, the Doug and Ann Allred Veteran’s Plaza, the Hutton-Parker Foundation Players’ Tunnel, and the Marborg Café. Montecito Bank & Trust is sponsoring the new scoreboard.
Still available are the naming rights for the press box ($500,000) and the field ($1 million) as well as the track ($500,000).
“Right now, our main effort is to raise about $600,000 for track equipment,” said Katie Jacobs, director of development for the Foundation for Santa Barbara High School.
The stadium itself was named after Frederick Forrest Peabody, the Arrow Shirt mogul who funded its construction in 1924. The foundation has vowed to not strip the shirt off Peabody’s back.
“It’ll always be Peabody Stadium,” Jacobs said. “We did a study and talked to our donors and alumni, and there were very strong feelings that it needs to always be Peabody.
“Some people said they would not donate to the project if they changed the name.”
The passion is running just as strong at Dos Pueblos to name its track after McClenathen, who became the Chargers’ first track and field coach in 1967. He won 17 Channel League championships and still assists the track program 22 years after his retirement as a coach and teacher.
McClenathen, however, may be more likely to crow for Crow, having run for him at Santa Barbara High before becoming an NCAA All-American at UCSB in 1956.
“He’s already purchased our hurdles for $9,000,” Dons’ athletic director Joe Chenoweth said, “and he’s asked how else he can help us out.”
The next guy he hears from may be Tony Miratti.
Mark Patton’s column appears on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.