A new ball game for athletic facilities

BLEACHERS and underneath panning on the home side of the stadium at Garden Grove High as the facility is demolished (GGUSD photo).

BLEACHERS and underneath panning on the home side of the stadium at Garden Grove High as the facility is demolished (GGUSD photo).

By Jim Tortolano

When voters in the Garden Grove Unified School District approved bond issues to modernize and improve facilities in the county’s third-largest public education system, they supported raising money not just for classrooms and libraries.

The GGUSD is planning a massive program of upgrading athletic facilities for the district’s seven comprehensive high schools. The construction and reconstruction began and continues under Measure A bonds (approved in 2008) and now Measure P funds (approved in 2016).

“We are in the process of prioritizing athletic upgrades for the district,” said Kelly McAmis, assistant superintendent of secondary education for the district. But just what those upgrades will mean is still a matter of study.

GGUSDlogoAlready underway is the tear-down of the stadium at Garden Grove High School, where the facility which dates back to the mid-Fifties will be replaced by a new state-of-the-art complex, which will include new seating, press facilities, restrooms, concession stands and more.

The playing field and the track that surrounds will be modern synthetic surfaces. Completion date is planned to be August 2017, and it will open as Michael Monsoor Memorial Stadium. Monsoor was a 1999 GGHS graduate who – while serving as a Navy SEAL in Iraq in 2006 – gave his life by throwing himself on a grenade to save his companions. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration.

The construction district-wide has had an effect some campuses, but the athletic programs are going on without interruption. “We’re playing some games at alternate locations such as alternate secondary and intermediate schools,” said McAmis. The fact that six of the seven schools compete in the Garden Grove League makes the challenge easier, she said. Pacifica plays in the Empire League.

The other district stadium at Bolsa Grande High School is also set for a refresh. Although the timeline is not set, the facility at that school will also face the bulldozer and crane, and then rise as a brand-new venue.

“Bolsa Grande will get the exact same upgrades as Garden Grove High,” assured McAmis.

All sports facilities are under consideration for improvements or possible replacement, she said. The district is making a list and assigning priorities based on a variety of factors, including seismic safety and other issues.

Pacifica and La Quinta high schools, built around the same time with nearly identical designs in the mid-Sixties, share some of the same issues, but rumors that the gymnasiums at those schools are bound for demolition and replacement are premature and possibly incorrect, according to McAmis.

“All the gymnasiums in the district are under consideration and there have been no decisions made or timelines” established for modernization projects, she said.

Overall, the public response to the new and improved facilities has been good. “The community is very excited about what we’re doing,” she said.

1 reply »

  1. Okay, I don’t have any problem with the upgrading and replacement of the bleachers. But those bleachers played some important moments in my life. When I was in 9th grade PE, the benches were still wood, and my PE teacher used to make us run up and down on those benches. By 11th grade, the wooden benches had been replaced by the aluminum benches, which made a heck of a lot of noise when you ran on them. Don’t get me wrong, I hated running up and down the bleachers, but that is a memory.

    Since my father worked at the high school and every Saturday and Sunday after a game he was part of the early morning crew that went in and cleaned up under the bleachers. In 11th grade he got me the job to help the crew. The bonus was we got to keep any money that we found on the ground, or in the bleachers while we were cleaning up. So I usually came home with a couple of dollars in my pocket.

    In 12th grade, as I was working at the district myself also, and I had a gate key. All schools in the district use the same lock on their Gates, and I had one of those keys. As a result, since the lock on the Press Box was also the same lock, more than once me and a friend would sneak into the Press Box just for the fun of it.

    Since the top West corner of the bleachers overlooked the pool, when the girls PE had swimming, and we could get away with it, the guys would sneak up to that corner and watch the girls in their bathing suits swimming.

    One crazy event took place with those bleachers prior too a football game when I was in 12th grade. It was it was a dry, windy day so there was a lot of static in the air. Somehow the metal bleacher frame acted like a giant antenna, and the PA system which was underneath the bleachers, suddenly started to play a radio station. The conditions were just right for the bleachers and the PA system to blend together to make a radio receiver. However, after the sun went down the signal was lost.

    It is sad to see them being torn down, a modern set of bleachers will be nice.

    Thanks for the story Jim.

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