Santa Barbara City College’s La Playa Stadium — with its towering, 84-step concrete bleachers and view of the Pacific Ocean — had a much-needed facelift this summer with a $2 million upgrade on the 11-year-old turf field and the damaged drainage system underneath.
The college’s new digs are being broken in by PE classes, the SBCC football team, and Bishop Diego High School football, which opened its season with a 52-0 trouncing of Oxnard on August 27 at the La Playa.
But for now, school officials say, the stadium is closed to the public, as it has been since the school first locked down in March 2020.
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the track will be closed to the public through the remainder of the fall term to help ensure the health and safety of our student athletes and to enable physical education classes to proceed with minimal disruption,” said SBCC spokesperson Victor Bryant.
The stadium, track, and its steps have historically been open to the public, and many would use the facilities for daily exercise. The grounds were originally closed to the public with the first lockdown in March 2020 and have remained closed with the exception of SBCC sports and PE classes.
In December 2020, the Board of Trustees approved the project, and preliminary construction broke ground in May 2021. The old turf had deteriorated, and the drainage pipes — which were more than two decades old — were damaged during a New York Philharmonic event in 2017. The project finished in August just in time for the start of the football season.
Prior to the fall semester, the school announced all staff and students working or taking classes on campus would need to check in when they arrived, and masks were required indoors. Bryant said that people are allowed to, and have been, walking through the campus with their dogs or using the many paths and walkways around the school.
“Members of the public are generally allowed to be on campus and enjoy SBCC’s outdoor spaces,” Bryant said. “Masks are currently required indoors and effective October 1, proof of vaccination is required to enter SBCC buildings, but this does not apply to outdoor spaces.”
The current policies are expected to last through the semester, and any changes will be announced as information becomes available. For more info on SBCC’s COVID-19 policies, visit sbcc.edu/newsandevents/covid-19.