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New Balboa Stadium Track Closer to Reality; Coliseum Comes Next

March 21, 1987|BOBBIE JO LEE | Times Staff Writer

The plan to renovate the track at San Diego High School's Balboa Stadium will clear its final hurdle if, as expected, the city school board at its meeting Tuesday approves the low bid of $404,000 for the project.

If the bid is approved, the construction of the new track would begin in early April and take about 90 days, said David Pain, a member of the Friends of Balboa Stadium Committee and an attorney who represents the local group. Local sports officials say the stadium has the potential to become an amateur sports coliseum.

The current condition of the track has prevented San Diego High's track teams from practicing or competing on their home track for the last two years, said Scotty Harris, the school's athletic director.

"I'm just frustrated by now," Harris said of efforts to get the renovation under way. "It should have been done a long time ago, and in the meantime I have had to put my teams on the road. The condition of that track has just deteriorated so much and we are really disappointed."

Harris said the condition of the track also prevented the school from hosting the annual California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Championships to be held this May. The event is held at a school with an all-weather track and good lighting.

In 1984, the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame secured a $50,000 loan to install new lights in the stadium as the initial restoration step. Local NFF officials have made it their goal to make the run-down stadium an amateur coliseum, said Jerry Ringer, president of the local chapter.

The initial funds to upgrade the track came in March, 1986 when the Amateur Athletic Foundation for youth sports in Southern California announced it would donate $116,667 for the project if the Friends of Balboa Stadium could raise an equal amount. The foundation is in charge of distributing money raised from the Olympics.

The local group then received $78,000 from the city of San Diego, $78,000 from the San Diego Unified School District and an additional $75,000 from the NFF.

Although the Friends are still short by about $50,000 of the low bid for the project, Pain said his organization will encourage volunteers to participate in the renovation to offset the costs. NFF officials also have offered to donate the difference.

"The foundation has told the school board that we will make up the difference (about $50,000) needed to pay for the lowest bid," Ringer said. "The fact that an amateur sports coliseum does not exist in the second largest city in California is very sad. We want that stadium renovated and improved."

Balboa Stadium was originally built in 1915 and, with 15,000 seats, was home to the San Diego Chargers in the 1960s. However, that stadium was leveled in 1979 because it failed to meet earthquake standards. The new stadium, known as Glen Broderick Stadium, still does not meet local officials' criteria for an amateur sports coliseum.

Other plans for the stadium include increasing the seating capacity from the current 4,000 to 15,000 because most "medium-sized events," such as the Special Olympics and Senior Olympics, require at least that many seats. That expansion, it is estimated, will cost about $600,000, Ringer said.

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