North Orange County Community College District Trustees voted 4-3 (Lopez, Blount, and Rodarte “no”) to approve the construction of a 4,400-seat stadium (with lighting and amplification) at Fullerton College’s Sherbeck Field at their November 12 meeting.
The consensus of the Trustees was, however, to bring back an item at a future meeting to reduce the number of seats to around 2,000.
Before voting on the item, many members of the public and the college community weighed in on the contentious issue, which has pitted neighbors’ concerns over lighting, sound, and traffic against the college’s desire for a stadium.
Fullerton College President Greg Schultz gave a brief presentation describing the project and explained new commitments the college has made to address neighbors’ concerns about noise, lighting, and traffic.
These include: no games on Friday evenings, no high school games at Sherbeck Field, no field lighting for any outside groups on Saturday or Sunday, no rental for musical performances or concerts by any outside groups, no sound amplification for outside groups, and the sound system would not exceed 91 decibels.
Trustee President Brown also noted that parking will be free for Fullerton College athletic events, to help avoid parking spillover into surrounding neighborhoods.
A representative of Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva read a statement in which the local representative expressed her opposition to the proposed stadium.
“A 4,400 seat stadium adjacent to homes makes no sense,” the statement read, especially when “a viable alternative, a newly renovated high school stadium is available right across the street.”
Quirk-Silva also noted that the Fullerton City Council had passed a resolution against the new stadium, urging the college to “share the stadium” with either Fullerton Union High School or CSUF.
Tanya McCrory, who lives near the proposed stadium, asked that the college consider lowering the seating to 2,000, and reduce the lighting and sound impacts.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” said Ken Bane, who also lives near the proposed stadium. He noted that the district’s ability to exempt itself from local review has not been settled by the courts.
A large contingent of students, coaches, and college administrators spoke in favor of the project.
The Fullerton College head men’s soccer coach showed up with his team to urge the approval of the project.
“A lot of students I’ve talked to in my classes sometimes don’t even know that there is a football team at Fullerton College,” said student athlete Jacob Jones. “It’s a great program, so I think having [a stadium] will draw more camaraderie in the school and will benefit many students.”
A member of the Fullerton College football team noted that the team currently commutes to Yorba Linda High School to play their “home” games.
“I wouldn’t really consider that a home game because your’e taking a bus there,” he said, “It would mean a lot for me and my teammates if we were able to play in Fullerton.”
A former Fullerton College football player pointed out that Cerritos, Saddleback, Orange Coast, and Citrus Colleges all have their own stadiums, “but the most prominent football program in the state of California and the nation does not have a stadium.”
Bob Jensen, retired Dean of Fine Arts at Fullerton College, spoke in favor of the project.
“As you read the EIR, it’s replete with examples of responses to neighborhood complaints,” Jensen said. “I think an awesome job has been done to listen to the neighbors and make adjustments.”
Garret Campbell, the head Fullerton football coach said, “This project is critical in helping my students reach their full potential.” He also noted that college teams are not allowed to play playoff games at high school fields.
Before voting to approve the project, Trustee Molly McClanahan suggested that staff bring back a reduced option (approximately 2,000-seat stadium) at their next meeting.
This idea was supported by the majority of Trustees, and a reduced option will likely come back at their next meeting.
Ultimately, the project passed 4-3, with the two student trustees voting against the project, along with Trustees Blount, Lopez, and Rodarte.
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