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Memorial Field to take center stage after $12M overhaul

City, Burbank Unified are preparing for Feb. 25 dedication ceremony after years of planning, fundraising.

January 10, 2012|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • The new field at Burroughs High School in Burbank on Tuesday, January 10, 2012. According to school officials, berries are staining the track. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
The new field at Burroughs High School in Burbank on Tuesday,…

A year after breaking ground on a $12-million overhaul of Memorial Field, Burbank Unified is preparing to dedicate the athletic facility.

District officials have issued an open invitation for the Feb. 25 ribbon-cutting ceremony at Burroughs High School, while also continuing to solicit donations for the ongoing maintenance of the field.

Community members who wish to have their name inscribed on one of five donor walls at the site in time for the event must contribute at least $500 by Jan. 30, officials said. The names of those who donate thereafter will be added later.

“In times like this, it is hard for people to part with their money,” said Judie Wilke, chairwoman of Burbank Priority in Education, a foundation that helped mobilize fundraising for the project. “But if all of us can do a little part in a bigger picture, in the long run that is how communities become better.”

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The renovation is the last in an $18.5-million, three-phase capital improvement project that saw the modernization of crumbling athletic facilities at Jordan Middle School and Burbank and Burroughs high schools.

When it opens next month, Memorial Field will boast a new athletic field with artificial turf and an all-weather track, as well as new bleachers, lighting, restrooms and concession stands. The joint-use project was funded by Burbank Unified, the city of Burbank and donations from local businesses and residents.

“I think Burbank is really going to have an opportunity to promote itself as a fitness community, having the two high school and Jordan Middle School tracks done,” said Burroughs Principal Emilio Urioste. “People are going to be walking [at Memorial Field] after work.”

The theme of the dedication ceremony will be consistent with the original event, which took place in 1946 and honored members of the armed services, particularly those from Burbank.

“It was really to honor two Burroughs Junior High teachers that had died in World War II, along with Burroughs students who had died in World War II,” Urioste said.

The original plaque bearing the names of the World War II veterans has been refurbished and will be reinstalled at the site, he said.

Community fundraising efforts have generated $650,000, officials said, including a $300,000 gift from the Cusumano family, which has had more than a dozen members graduate from Burroughs High School. The Burbank Health Foundation donated $200,000, and Disney donated $50,000.

Contributors have an opportunity to put their name on a state-of-the-art facilitiy, said Michael Hastings, a former Burbank mayor and founder of Burbank Priority in Education. The fundraising goal is $1 million, he added.

“[Donors] become part of the legacy, and Burbank has such a strong legacy when it comes to honoring those who have gone before us, and those who have served in the armed services,” Hastings said.
 
 

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