SANTA CLARA — As workers for the National Football League dug holes Monday in the meticulously groomed turf of a youth soccer complex next to Levi’s Stadium, the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League added the mighty NFL to a lawsuit fighting the league’s plan to use the fields for media broadcasts of Super Bowl 50.
Standing behind a black iron fence on a cloudy morning, lifelong Santa Clara resident Burt Field, the soccer league’s aptly named field scheduler, watched helplessly as a handful of men in bright green vests drove shovels into the field where his son played a few weeks ago.
The workers were carving nearly 90 holes and removing sprinklers as part of a plan to transform the Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park for the Super Bowl, only about a month away.
The soccer league sued Santa Clara last week to stop the NFL from borrowing the 11-acre soccer park, saying the city failed to follow the process for changing the conditional use permit for the fields’ usage. The group sought a temporary restraining order to block the NFL’s project, but named only the city of Santa Clara.
Now the soccer league has expanded its lawsuit to include the NFL, which took possession of the city-owned soccer park Monday and will keep it until March 2, according to its agreement with Santa Clara.
“It’s no longer just the city,” said Gautam Dutta, a managing partner at Business, Energy, and Election Law, the firm representing the soccer league. “The NFL actually gets custody of the fields today. Now you have a new party who is involved.”
Brian McCarthy, the NFL’s vice president of communications, declined to comment Monday on the pending litigation. But the league sent this newspaper a statement last week indicating it would not be deterred by a legal challenge.cheap nfl jersey from China
“We are thankful that the Super Bowl plans and build-out will continue on schedule. We are poised to deliver a great Super Bowl experience and leave a positive, lasting legacy for the community,” said the joint statement, issued on behalf of the NFL, the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and the San Francisco 49ers.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Joseph H. Huber last week rejected the soccer league’s request for a temporary restraining order but asked the NFL not to make “drastic changes” to the soccer fields until the issue could be heard in court on Wednesday.
Field, 55, said he’s disheartened the NFL and city moved forward with construction, despite the judge’s warning. In response to the amended complaint Monday, the judge scheduled an emergency hearing for the case at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“We’re just disappointed,” he said, glancing at the pockmarked fields. “The judge asked them not to do anything until Wednesday — and here they are.”
McCarthy said the NFL was removing sprinkler heads Monday as part of the “protection process” and that the fields will be used for trailers for international broadcasters, NFL Films and a media workroom on game day.
“The area will be used to house security, media and production areas,” McCarthy said.
City Attorney Ren Nosky said Santa Clara will fight the allegation that it didn’t follow through with changing the soccer park’s usage permit.
“It’s questionable whether the conditional use permit granted in 2001 confers any rights upon the soccer league,” he said.cheap jersey
Soccer groups knew since 2013 that the park would be used for the Super Bowl and had no objections, said Steve Robertson, vice president of the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League and the petitioner in the lawsuit.
What they didn’t know, according to Robertson, is that the complex would be used for a “media village,” requiring the removal of fences and dugouts and the installation of wooden planks to house nearly 6,000 members of the media. Advocates claim they learned this during a City Council meeting in December, and the city’s license agreement with the NFL makes no mention of how the fields will be used.
McCarthy said the NFL “understands the importance of the park to the citizens” and has taken a number of steps to minimize the impact on the fields.
“All equipment will be placed on top of the fields that will be covered by plastic fabrication to avoid any direct load on the surface,” McCarthy said. “There is no paving on the playing fields. Vehicle access will be limited and only allowed on specified pathways. Golf cart and pedestrian access will also be restricted to these areas.”
Though the wholesale NFL jerseys promised in writing to repair damage to the fields from the Super Bowl, soccer advocates claim there is no set timeline.
“There’s nothing in writing that states when the park will be restored to its original condition,” Robertson said. “Our biggest concern is it will be pushed beyond March.”
The city offered two replacement fields at the Twin Creeks facility, paying $165 per hour for its usage, but league officials say they’re not large enough to host games.