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Operation Padre raising funds for new CHS sports compound

By MARY SCHLEY

Published: October 25, 2013

THE FIELD is too small for all Carmel High sports except football and track and field, so field hockey, soccer and others have to be played off campus. Gophers reign supreme, and poor drainage causes ruts and puddles when it rains. Fans of visiting teams can’t even see over the heads of their players on the sidelines unless they sit at the top of the bleachers. And home fans have to sit on concrete steps that have been in place since the 1950s.

Those are just a few of the problems Operation Padre — a group of parents, educators and alumni — hopes to address by raising money for an overhaul slated to start in March 2014. While Carmel Unified School District officials have already committed $2.6 million for replacing the grass with synthetic turf and making the stadium handicapped accessible, according to CUSD superintendent Marvin Biasotti, a comprehensive project improving the sports facilities would make a huge difference for all of the school’s student athletes.

Operation Padre representatives said a more thorough overhaul of the school’s athletic facilities would “transform the deteriorating stadium into a contemporary, multi-use, sports facility.” That would entail installation of synthetic turf to accommodate all the field sports played by CHS teams, construction of an all-weather track, a new commentator’s box, scoreboard and storage shed, and improvements to the bleachers for home and visiting fans.

“The visitor bleachers are essentially nonfunctional now, because they are so low that unless you are on the top row, you can’t see over the team on the sideline,” Biasotti said. “And there will be modest improvements to the seating on the home side, including bench seating, because right now, you sit on concrete.”

That work was estimated at $3.6 million in 2011, but a new estimate is under way, according to Biasotti.

“We’re guessing that due to inflation, it’s going to be closer to $4 million, but that’s just a guess,” he said.

The renovated facility would meet the specifications for all boys’ and girls’ sports programs, including field hockey, football, lacrosse, track and field, soccer and PE activities. Presently, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse games have to be played at Carmel Middle School or Carmel Valley High School. The synthetic turf will also cut down on the school’s water use.

The $2.6 million committed to the project by CUSD came from the proceeds of the sale of a property on Scarlett Road that fetched $1.85 million in 1999, and some reserve money that can be released now that the state has not cut back on public education funds as previously anticipated.

“If Operation Padre does not raise a dime, we know we have enough money to proceed with the field renovation,” he said. “We’re breaking ground in March regardless of how much they’ve raised.”

The work should be done by the end of July, so the fall sports teams will be able to use the field and track.
And if that work costs less than the $2.6 million, the balance will be used for the extras that Operation Padre members and others are hoping to see come to fruition.

“If we don’t make the stadium and field improvements, it’s the one place on that campus that’s operating at a 1950s level, with very few upgrades to it over the past five decades,” Biasotti pointed out.

“It’s important to bring it up to current standards, but sometimes it can get lost, because everybody associates that field with football. We need to be able to bring back soccer and field hockey so they can play at home,” he said. “It’s been an unfortunate situation that we have not had a home field for those teams.”

Operation Padre supporters noted the school frequently gets high marks from Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report, ranking in the top 1 percent of all high schools in the country, and, with the exception of its athletic facilities, offers a modern learning environment for its students.
All donations to Operation Padre are tax deductible. For more information, or to support the effort, visit www.carmelunified.org/ operationpadre, or send a check to Operation Padre, Carmel High Athletic Boosters, P.O. Box 222780, Carmel CA 93922. The Tax ID No. is 77-0112615.