Sports

Of playoffs, stadiums and Willowick

ONLY A HANDFUL of area high school sports teams have survived to the second week of winter CIF-SS playoffs.

ONLY A HANDFUL of area high school sports teams have survived to the second week of winter CIF-SS playoffs.

It’s been a tough winter. And we don’t just mean with all the rain and wind.

In winter high school sports, just four teams from the Garden Grove-Huntington Beach-Westminster area have survived past the first week of CIF-SS playoffs.

mm-coach-logoIn girls’ basketball Huntington Beach is in the Division 1-A quarterfinals, hosting Duarte on Wednesday. In boys’ soccer Edison will play Mission Viejo in a Division 1 quarterfinal match on Wednesday.

On Tuesday in girls’ soccer second round action, Huntington Beach will visit San Clemente in Division 1 play, while Pacifica visits University in Division 2 action.

STILL THE ANAHEIM ANGELS

Probably the most interesting news to come out of spring training for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was the statement by team owner Arte Moreno that the Halos will stay at the Big A – Angel Stadium – at least through 2029.

What’s remarkable about that is that the edifice on State College Boulevard – opened in 1966 – is now the fourth-oldest baseball stadium in major league baseball. Older are Fenway Park (1912), Wrigley Field (1914) and Dodger Stadium (1962).

angelslogoWe’ve seen NFL teams tear down stadiums only 20 years old, and in Atlanta, Turner Field – which opened in 1997 – is being replaced by the new SunTrust Park, set to open this spring for the Braves. The trend today in sports palaces is to construct not just a place to play and watch a sport, but to leverage that attraction into a whole complex of restaurants, stores and nightclubs.

The Angels will stay put in part because of the very good condition of the facility, and the ongoing improvements, including $1.5 million in new lighting this year. The surrounding development of “A-Town” has been slow to catch fire, but eventually it will provide a substantial population within walking distance.

SPEAKING OF STADIUMS …

One of the unspoken aspects of the OC Streetcar project now in the final planning stages is the future of the Willowick Golf Course. That 18-hole facility on Fifth Street is in a kind of a civic Twilight Zone. It’s located in Santa Ana but owned and operated by the City of Garden Grove.

ARTIST'S RENDERING of a streetcar in Santa Ana (OCTA image).

ARTIST’S RENDERING of a streetcar in Santa Ana (OCTA image).

Having opened in 1928, the 102.1-acre Willowick is the oldest public golf course in Orange County. As Orange County gets denser and denser and the demographics shift, the possible re-uses of that land get more and more intriguing.

At one point, Garden Grove and Santa Ana considered a land swap – the course to GG and the Buena Clinton area to SA. That fell through. Then in 2008, the possibility of a professional soccer stadium was raised, but never came to fruition.

In 2015, Santa Ana mulled the idea of buying the land from Garden Grove, but the estimated purchase price of $200 million was too much to swallow. But in 2016 the Orange County Transportation Authority decided to put a station stop right at Willowick for its planned OC Streetcar project that will link up Santa Ana with Garden Grove.

The land area is tempting. It’s nearly as big as the footprint of Disneyland (107 acres) and is centrally located to a closely populated area. The streetcar would give it access to the quickly-gentrifying downtown Santa Ana area and the Harbor Boulevard corridor leading through Garden Grove’s burgeoning hotel and entertainment district, which – of course – is just south of Disneyland.

We can imagine a joint-use project between the two cities to build a sports stadium in the center of a complex of stores, condos and restaurants, a la the new Rams Taj Mahal in Inglewood.

All you’d need is a team or two. But who ever heard of a sports team moving for a newer, more profitable stadium, eh?

Monday Morning Coach is written by Pete Zarustica.

 

 

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