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Supporters Look to Add Sports Field to New Santa Monica Civic Auditorium Site

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

February 9, 2016 -- After more than a decade in play, the issue of locating a sports field for use by schools and others at the Santa Monica Civic Center site when it is finally redone is back in the public eye, with supporters saying they’ve been kept from their goal far too long.

“Residents of Santa Monica are taking on City Hall for the sake of the children,” Tricia Crane , a representative of proponents of a field at the auditorium site downtown, said in announcing a rally at City Hall before the Council’s Tuesday night meeting. “PTA leaders are refusing to listen to member of City Council who have told them to stay home Tuesday night.”

Student athletes, parents, coaches, cheerleaders in uniform and others planned to rally outside the Council Chambers first and then make their case during the Council meeting for a sports field, which they say was promised to them in 2005.

At issue, she said, is an “extreme” lack of field space in Santa Monica. Students of Santa Monica High School must walk, bus, or be driven across the city to find field space to practice, supporters of the new field say. They said cancellations of team practice are routine due to shortage of space.

Proponents say the City’s 2005 Civic Center Specific Plan promised to use public land across from Santa Monica High School for a regulation-sized athletic field, but that the vows “of a field for the children of resident taxpayers are being forgotten,” Crane said.

Before the Council is a complex set of proposals for rebuilding the shuttered Civic Auditorium. The Civic Working Group envisions the site as becoming the “cultural heart of Santa Monica.” All the plans in the nine-member group’s 40-page report are costly, ranging from $5.1 million to $29 million for everything from space for artists to a Fine Arts museum.

Discussion of using a portion of the 4-acre site for a sports field is minimal, though. It says the City Council should “investigate” plans to allow a full size multi-use field on the says if “such a field is not consistent with a mixed use arts and cultural district, or if the Council otherwise decides not to include such a field on this site, then address community desire for a field on this site by building fields elsewhere,” the report said.

The playfield “would be of the size and dimension suitable for youth soccer” and should include night lighting and safety fencing, the group's report said.

City staff has offered an alternative, however, that would include a sports field at the corner of Fourth Street and Pico Boulevard.

The working group, which spent two years putting the proposals together, present their findings to the Council at its meeting Tuesday.

To a large extent, the report focuses on ways of retaining the historic nature of the Civic Auditorium and on making it more self-sustaining financially. By the time the City closed it in 2013, business there was extremely modest compared to its heyday decades ago. It also required annual subsidizes from the City’s general fund.

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