As the visionary undertaking of a $39 million renovation of Santa Barbara High School’s Peabody stadium heads toward completion, Dons across the community look forward to 21st century athletic facilities that will finally match the beauty of their historic, 1924 campus.
While progress continues at the site, officials are now predicting that construction will not be completed in time for football season. Plans have already been set in motion for the Dons to play their home games alternately between San Marcos and Dos Pueblos high schools, said Santa Barbara High School Principal Elise Simmons.
With a project of this magnitude and complexity, there are many moving pieces that can cause hold ups in the process, Simmons explained. “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. It’s going to be the best of the best, and we want to get it right,” Simmons said.
Contractors have estimated the project will be completed in November. Katie Jacobs – a parent of Santa Barbara High grads and former director of development for the Foundation for Santa Barbara High School – said the disruption to the football season is a small price to pay for the ultimate community benefit.
“Santa Barbara High hasn’t hosted a track meet since the 1980s, so waiting another few months is a small inconvenience,” Jacobs said. “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.
While construction caused the Dons to play their football games at Santa Barbara City College last season, Simmons stated that this year, it made better sense to take advantage of the district’s other two high school campuses.
Despite the delay, construction of the new 2,300-seat stadium and press box are still fiscally on target. “Actually, the project is on track to be completed under budget,” said Santa Barbara Unified School District Director of Facilities and Modernization Steve Vizzolini, adding that the change orders are less than two percent of the $28 million in construction costs.
The expansive undertaking – a longtime dream of many supporters throughout Santa Barbara – is being made possible thanks to the Foundation of SBHS, many private donations, local bond measures, and state funding.
Vizzolini said the delay can be attributed to a series of complications associated with lost time during the heavy rainy season earlier this year, and an issue that arose over the laying of the foundation supporting the turf field. Another holdup is associated with a state inspection needed on the ADA accessible elevator that will take visitors to stadium seating as well as the press box.
“That elevator inspection is slated for early November, which is the earliest the state can get here,” Vizzolini said. “All of that has to be approved before we can allow the public to access the facilities.”
The project consists of:
- A new 2,300 seat concrete grandstand with a press box that will bring the old facility into compliance with current regulatory codes.
- Because of the bowl like setting, several new retaining walls are being added to expand the playfield and track areas.
- The new landscaping is playing a critical role in the overall renovation and plant material has been carefully selected for durability and compatibility with our local climate. Several trees are being added to the site to support the park like setting of the athletic facility.
- Expanding the athletic sports field to create a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) regulation track and artificial turf field to support competitive athletic events and enhance the use of the facility by Santa Barbara High School and the Santa Barbara community.
- Modernizing and replacing the athletic sound and lighting systems for energy efficiency and mitigating impacts to areas outside of the stadium.
Construction crews have been working all summer to move the project forward as swiftly as possible. Progress has been made around the construction of the grandstands, landscaping, installation of fire sprinkler systems as well as other activities.
The Santa Barbara High community and the District look forward to a grand opening celebration upon completion of the project.