Originally appeared in the THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2009 issue of the San Leandro Times
The crowd roars from the stands as the Pirates win yet another league championship. After looking at the condition of Burrell Field, the Pirates home turf, one may wonder if the roar is in support of the home team or complaints about splinters received from the worn and weathered wood bleachers. The condition of the bleachers is just one of the numerous problems with the Sports Stadium at Burrell Field. The current stadium is 50 years old and seriously outdated.
In fact, the governing body of High School Sports in California, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), has determined that San Leandro will not host another home playoff game, an honor awarded to League Champs, until the facility is brought up to Northern Coast Section standards.
“Our school system is our most important industry, and our kids are our most important product!” says SLSF board member Shelia Young, San Leandro Mayor Emeritus. “We’ve invested our money in Wall Street for the sake of a quick buck and neglected Main Street. It is time to invest in our most valuable product.”
Enter the San Leandro Sports Foundation
The San Leandro Sports Foundation (SLSF) is a newly formed non-profit public benefit corporation. The Foundation is an ALL volunteer organization comprised of local business people, parents, teachers and concerned community members. SLSF’s mission is to raise awareness and funds for supporting and improving playing fields, playgrounds and the athletic infrastructure within our community. The immediate objective of San Leandro Sports Foundation is to modernize Burrell Field—creating a “landmark” sports facility deserving of San Leandro’s rich sporting tradition and one of which every citizen will be proud—big dreams for sure.
SLSF’s goal is that, by 2012, San Leandro has a brand-new sports stadium designed for year-round use by our elementary, middle and high schools, and our youth and adult sports leagues. SLSF’s “field of dreams” is a Community Sports Complex, one that will accommodate sporting events, theater/concerts, and ceremonial events for all San Leandro community members — young and old. No other community facility could generate as many recreational-use hours.
Why modernize Burrell Field? “It’s already there,” says SLSF board member, and one of its founders, Dave Ellington.
“San Leandro residents and businesses will support the modernization of Burrell Field because it will generate revenue for San Leandro schools through increased gate receipts and concession proceeds. Local businesses will benefit by increased foot traffic stimulated by the new stadium’s seating capacity and increased attendance where events can be hosted year-round. Rebuilding in the current industrial/commercial location will not negatively impact local residential neighborhoods.”
The school district does not have the funds to adequately maintain Burrell Field, let alone the funds to modernize its other aging athletic facilities. For instance, the SLHS pool is more than 50 years old and badly in need of complete renovation to come into compliance with modern code requirements. Recent state budget cuts to education threaten to eliminate sports and arts/music programs in school districts statewide. The San Leandro Unified School District is facing millions in budget deficit for the 2009-2010 fiscal year; consequently, the funds for this capital improvement are not currently available. So, where will the money come from to provide the facilities our children need now? That’s where SLSF comes in. The Foundation needs you, the citizens of San Leandro, to join with them in a community-wide effort to raise money through foundation grants, corporate donations, and public and private contributions.
Membership Campaign Chairman Jack Nelson states: “The campaign to build a new stadium at Burrell Field in San Leandro begins NOW with a MEMBERSHIP CAMPAIGN! We hope that you will join us in this very worthwhile endeavor to improve our schools and our community by becoming a member of the San Leandro Sports Foundation TODAY. You can contact us for more information and upcoming events at www.slsfi.org.”
“I think it is important that we all take an active role in this project,” says SLSF board member Ken Pon. “A new stadium will demonstrate our commitment to the health and physical fitness of our children and adults. We want to provide our community with a safe, clean and modern facility in which to run, play and exercise.”