Renovation of Santa Barbara High School’s Peabody Stadium includes replacing its cracked asphalt track with a synthetic surface that meets CIF regulations and will allow the school to host track meets. (Foundation for Santa Barbara High School photo)

On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara Unified School District approved the naming of a new plaza in the renovated Peabody Stadium at Santa Barbara High School. Jordano Plaza, honoring Pete and Gerd Jordano, will be a community gathering space as well as the location of a new donor wall, recognizing contributors to the stadium renovation project.

“Pete and Gerd Jordano have not only made a significant donation to this project, but they have also been tireless volunteers,” said Greg Tebbe, capital campaign chair. “They have been responsible for securing at least $1 million so far for this once-in-a-century project.”

In the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, Pete and Gerd Jordano joined SBHS staff and volunteers for a tour of the existing asphalt track, 90-year-old concrete stadium, and field at Santa Barbara High School.

“Pete and I both graduated from Santa Barbara High School and have very fond memories of our time there,” Gerd Jordano said, “but we hadn’t been to the stadium for a long time. It looks a little sad down there.”

After seeing the poor condition of the track, field and stadium, the Jordanos wasted no time in getting involved. They immediately pledged their support and set about rallying Dons to get involved.

“All the pieces were in place to start this project,” Pete Jordano said. “All we had to do was get our classmates and friends interested.

“Both Gerd and I made connections at SBHS that have lasted a lifetime. We are honored to be part of this project and do what we can for the next generation.”

The Foundation for Santa Barbara High School and the Santa Barbara Unified School District have been working together for three years on a $12.7 million plan to renovate the stadium, track and field at SBHS. The district has already approved $4.9 million in bond funds for the project, and received a seismic mitigation grant from the State of California for $2.8 million. The Foundation for SBHS began its campaign to raise the remaining $5 million from private sources in the fall.

Including the Jordanos’ gift, $3 million has been pledged or donated to the renovation.

“We would not have come this far without the Jordano’s help,” Tebbe said. “Their contribution gave us the ‘seal of approval’ we needed.

“In the next year, we need to raise the remaining $2 million. We hope that every Don — actually every person in Santa Barbara who believes in strong schools and offering public places for recreation and exercise — will join the Jordanos in making a contribution.”

Both Jordanos are active community volunteers and business leaders. Pete Jordano is CEO of Jordano’s Food Service and Pacific Beverage, the oldest continuing business with common ownership in Santa Barbara and the second largest independent foodservice distribution company in California. Gerd Jordano was honored as the 2011 Santa Barbara Foundation Woman of the Year for her service to many local organizations including Alzheimer’s Association, Cottage Health Systems, Westmont College, Hospice of Santa Barbara, and the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation.

The Peabody Stadium renovation will update the facility with a new concrete grandstand as well as an artificial turf field and synthetic track. Currently, use of the facility is severely limited due to its age and condition. The renovation will make Peabody Stadium accessible to all SBHS students as well as to the Santa Barbara community.

The Santa Barbara High School class of 2015 could be the last class to graduate in the original stadium, which was built in 1924. As long as fundraising targets are met, the renovation project will begin in November 2015 and be completed in time for graduation 2017. Graduation in 2016 will be conducted at a different location.

For more information about the renovation of the track, field and stadium, click here and select Peabody Stadium Renovation. Donations can also be mailed to Foundation for SBHS, P.O. Box 158, Santa Barbara, CA 93102.

— Katie Jacobs is the director of development for the Foundation for Santa Barbara High School.