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If everything goes as planned, aquatics athletes at...

August 21, 2004

If everything goes as planned, aquatics athletes at Burbank High will

have a new, state-of-the-art swimming pool to compete in this coming

season.

Too bad the Bulldog football players won't have the luxury of a

playing in a new facility for their 2004 campaign.

In fact, football players from Burbank, Burroughs and Bellarmine-

Jefferson -- which play their games at the same venue -- will have to

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endure another season in an outdated, shabby and decrepit facility --

Memorial Field.

To say the place has seen better days is an understatement.

Memorial Field is a dump in need of some serious cleanup.

Along with the stadium itself, the grass playing surface at

Memorial Field is so bad, Burroughs boys' soccer Coach Mike Kodama

has moved his team's home matches to Luther Burbank Middle School,

instead of the Indians' home venue.

And when the Bulldog and Indian track and field teams begin their

seasons in the spring, they too will have to compete on running

surfaces that are a complete joke.

It seems with all the money earmarked for construction and

renovation at the Burbank and Burroughs campuses, none of the funds

have found their way to the football field or running tracks.

It's estimated that it would take two years and roughly $2.5

million to replace the existing playing surface at Memorial Field,

and the tracks at both schools.

It would be money well spent.

A synthetic football field would benefit not only the football and

soccer programs at Burroughs, but teams at the other two high

schools, as well.

The renovation and construction project at Burroughs is costing

$56 million, and the improvements at Burbank should come in at about

$48.7 million. There is hope that after work is completed at both

schools, there might be enough money left over to build running

tracks or modernize Memorial Field.

But don't hold your breath that any funds will ever be available

for the track and football projects.

Because the existing venues are in such bad shape, two

long-standing local high-school events have had to be moved or

canceled.

The 30th edition of the Burbank Invitational track and field meet

in 2003 had to be moved to Burroughs because of the ongoing

construction at Burbank.

Last year, the meet was canceled altogether.

The event was shelved because Bulldog track and field Coach Darin

Wolf contends that without an all-weather track, it is tough to

attract teams to the invitational.

For years, Memorial Field has been the anchor facility for another

event -- the annual Burroughs-Brandt Boys' Soccer Tournament -- which

features top talent.

However, for this year's installment -- which will be played in

December -- not many matches will take place at Burroughs. Instead,

Kodama has moved the majority of contests to St. Francis and La

Canada highs -- which both have artificial playing fields -- and

Occidental College.

That's pretty embarrassing for a school to have to put on its own

tournament at other sites because its home facility is in such poor

shape.

The football and track and field athletes at our local schools

work extremely hard and put in a tremendous amount of hours to train

and compete for themselves, and their schools. It's just too bad that

some have to deal with sub-par facilities.

They deserve much better.

* JEFF TULLY is the sports editor of the Burbank Leader. He can be

reached at 637-3245, or by e-mail at jeff.tully@latimes.com.

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