A sporting mission

Corona del Mar High coach is spearheading plans for an even bigger, state-of-the-art sports complex than the school pictures.

February 27, 2014|By Jill Cowan
  • Corona del Mar football Coach Scott Meyers, left, and track and field Coach Bill Sumner, hold a rendering of the proposed stadium at Corona del Mar High School.
Corona del Mar football Coach Scott Meyers, left, and… (Don Leach, Daily…)

The new sports complex, Bill Sumner insisted, will not be a 5,000-seat behemoth of a stadium.

Its lights will not shine into neighbors' homes through the night, the longtime Corona del Mar High School track coach said. And its footprint, Sumner added, will not be any larger than the aging, patched-up track and field that are already there.

Sumner — who is spearheading the high school's efforts to revamp its outdoor sports facilities — wanted to make that much clear Thursday, as he showed off a series of illustrations depicting a state-of-the-art field complex that would seat about 1,400 and include lights, new bathrooms, two team rooms and two snack bars.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District board has already allocated $7.4 million to replace the current athletics field with all-weather turf, upgrade the aging track with new synthetic turf and install up to 600 additional seats on the home side, bringing the total to no more than 1,000.


But Sumner, along with CdM boosters, hope to expand that plan on their own dime, though the school board would have to approve the additions.

"It's my dream," said Sumner, a 30-year employee of the school.

That vision, however, has come under fire from residents in neighborhoods surrounding the compact campus off Eastbluff Drive, who have said that even the changes proposed by the district would worsen an already hectic traffic pattern.

Parking, too, residents have said, would become even more of a nightmare.

Sumner said the illustrations, which cost about $9,000, serve a dual purpose: first, to give prospective donors a picture of what they could help build. The school needs to raise about $5 million more in order to complete the additional changes, Sumner estimated.

Second, the renderings, which were commissioned independently of the school district, could act as a base for discussions with community members — a point of reference that could assuage concerns about the proposed facility's effect on the area.

Another community meeting, where residents can air their thoughts on the topic, is set for 5 p.m. March 20 in the school's theater.

"We're going from a Prius to a Suburban," Sumner said. "The rumors are that we're going from a Prius to a school bus."

He said about 78% of the school's students participate in athletics — a higher percentage than most.

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