From the street, Santa Barbara High’s renovated Peabody Stadium is a site to behold. Between the Spanish-style architecture of the press box and the lush green field turf with the school logo in the middle of the field, the facility is eye-catching.
Access to use the stadium, however, remains off-limits because of a series of construction delays.
The latest setback involves the installation of an all-weather track that surrounds the field.
Steve Vizzolini, director of facilities and modernization for the Santa Barbara Unified School District, said the delay with the track surface installation was “due to the general contractor’s inability to get the paved subsurface completed to specifications.”
The general contractor of the stadium renovation is AMG & Associates of Santa Clarita.
Vizzolini said the general contractor has since completed the subsurface work, “but because of the delay, the contractor installing the track surface (Wall 2 Wall Sport) moved on to other projects.”
The completion of the $39 million stadium — $11 million more than the construction bid that was approved by the district in 2017 — has been bogged down by delays since ground was broken in August 2017. The delays prevented the school from holding two pre-pandemic graduations on campus and forced the football, soccer and lacrosse programs to move their home games to other facilities during the past three years.
Presently, the Dons football team is holding its preseason conditioning workouts at Santa Barbara Junior High. The California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body of high school sports, pushed the 2020 fall sports season back to January because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The delays on completing the stadium have prompted messages of frustration on social media sites and emails to Noozhawk.
On the latest delay, Vizzolini said he received confirmation from Wall 2 Wall Sport that the San Diego-based athletic flooring specialist will begin installing the track and field-event areas next week.
In the installation of the Italian-made Mondo track, the surface is put down in strips rather than by a machine laying the surface.
“The type of track that is put down with machinery is an entirely different track surface, so they shouldn’t be compared,” Vizzolini said. “And, the contractor is an American firm.”
Vizzolini said the track installation should take about three weeks to complete.
“After that, SBHS should be able to use the stadium,” he said. “We already received the Letter of Substantial Completion from the architect, which means the stadium is suitable for use. All that is left are about 20 small punch-list items that need correcting, and that work is ongoing. Full completion of the project should be very soon.”
That’s great news to Todd Heil, Santa Barbara High athletic director and former boys soccer coach, who had to play home games at other venues for the past three seasons.
“We’re all eager for the anticipation of the opening of Peabody Stadium,” he said. “We’re just waiting on the final touches, the track installation to be complete, and then we will be able to welcome our student-athletes back to the stadium.”
Asked if the defending Channel League-champion Dons football team will be playing in the stadium if the season starts in January, Vizzolini replied: “Yes, they will.”