Santa Barbara City College’s La Playa Stadium, which boast some of the most breathtaking views for weekend fitness warriors, is reopening to the public after a long hiatus due to COVID and the installation of new synthetic turf. Starting Saturday, the stadium’s popular stairs and track will be open to the public on weekends and holidays, and daily during SBCC winter break.
The stadium has been closed to the public for much of the pandemic, though the public was once again granted daily access to its stairs this summer. For those who used the stadium as their spiritual retreat — a roosting spot for runners, joggers, yoga stretchers, exhibitionists, firefighters trying to look busy, or those seeking somehow to connect with other like-minded members of the Lycra tribe — it has seemed much, much longer.
It is notable that the announcement of the reopening was made by Summers Case, public info apparatchik for the City of Santa Barbara and not from City College itself. The closure of the track has been a subject of subliminal but simmering tension between the two governmental bodies, with those in City Hall growing increasingly restive with the campus’s insistence on keeping the track closed to the public.
The grand reopening will take place with no other ceremonial fanfare than the rising of the sun this Saturday morning. To the extent that there was ever a normal to return to, the announcement marks one small step in that general direction.
UPDATE 11/23: Following the city’s announcement, SBCC Men’s Athletic Program Assistant Ryan Grant clarified that the turf field remains off-limits to the public and that “there will be no public access on any section of the track while any SBCC PE classes or athletic teams are using the facility.”