The Pine Cone's sixth story of the week

Decrepit P.G. High football stadium gets complete makeover

By KELLY NIX

Published: July 4, 2008

FOR YEARS, spectators at Pacific Grove High’s Breaker Stadium have warily taken seats on bedraggled, decrepit and possibly hazardous bleachers to watch their favorite football, soccer, lacrosse and track teams compete. The field also wasn’t much to write home about.

But that’s all changing with a $6 million facelift that could make the P.G. High stadium the jewel of the Monterey Peninsula’s high school athletic fields.

“It’s been a long time coming,” P.G. Unified School District assistant superintendent Robin Blakley said of the renovation.

The decades-old stadium will get new aluminum bleachers, a synthetic grass field, snack bar, scoreboard, field house and wheelchair access. The project began June 7 and is expected to be finished next spring.

“The field was really old and in pretty poor condition,” Blakley said. “The bleachers were deteriorating and the track was in very bad shape. It was time to take care of them.”

The project is being paid for by taxpayers through a $42 million bond made possible through Measure D, which voters approved in June 2006 to renovate P.G. schools.

Pacific Grove High parent Claudia McCord, whose son, Graham, is on the soccer team, said many at the school are looking forward to replacing the natural grass field with one made of synthetic turf, the same as Monterey High recently installed.

“In the wintertime it gets so muddy that it’s impossible for the kids to play a good game of soccer,” McCord said. “With artificial turf, the ball is so much more responsive.”

The turf will also save water since it requires none.

The stadium will be upgraded to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, which means the construction of a new field house and snack bar that will be accessible with a wheelchair.
“The new concession stand will be on the lower level,” Blakley said.

Previously, the stadium’s snack bar was located above a flight of stairs on the upper level of the school grounds, making it inaccessible to those in wheelchairs.

And during halftime, teams formerly were required to walk to the school’s locker rooms, which were distantly accessible from a staircase on the field. The new stadium will feature a field house just beyond one end zone where teams can relax between halves.

Although there were groups through the years that did the best to maintain the old bleachers, which Blakley said constantly warped, time ultimately got the better of them. The new bleachers, placed on both sides of field, will also offer more seating.

“The bleachers were old and tired,” Blakley said.

P.G. High track and field coach Jerry Pfeiffer said the new rubberized composite track will make it much easier for the track team, which is used to running on an uneven dirt track.

“It should be a much faster course,” Pfeiffer said, “and people will want to come here for track meets. I think it’s great it’s happening. The kids will have some pride” in the stadium.

Andy Miller, commercial division manager for DMC Construction, the company building the stadium, said as many as 50 workers were used at the P.G. High jobsite.

“We are really happy to be involved in it,” Miller said.

The stadium redo also calls for renovation of the upper parking lot, he said.

But the stadium upgrade will also be an inconvenience. While construction is under way, football games will be held at Monterey Peninsula College’s athletic field, Blakley said. Soccer games will be played at P.G. High’s practice field, located above the stadium. The track and field team has made an agreement with Stevenson School to use its field, Pfeiffer said.

Pfeiffer said P.G. High’s legendary track coach, Richard Chamberlin, who died February 2006 after being struck by car, would be proud of the new track, which is being installed in his memory.

Pfeiffer, who had coached with Chamberlin for 10 years, said the former coach had sought a new track and discussed the possibility with school officials.

“He would have loved to see this come to fruition,” Pfeiffer said.