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El Toro Chargers Might Get Home Turf for the First Time

El Toro High School may get new bleachers and lighting on its football and track field, allowing its athletes to host home games.

The Chargers could face opponents on home turf for the first time under a district proposal that would add new bleachers, lighting, ticket booths and scoreboard to the football and track field.

Lake Forest's only public high school may finally get to host its own home games if the Saddleback Valley Unified School District plan to upgrade the stadium passes muster. The change would mean elimination of travel for El Toro teams to the stadium at Trabuco Hills High School, where they now compete.

"The proposed upgrades to the existing football and track field would provide state of the art facilities similar to those of surrounding cities," according to Noemi Avila-Zamudio, Saddleback Valley Unified School District's coordinator of facilities planning and construction.

SVUSD is considering putting in 18 rows of new home side bleachers, able to fit 2,500 visitors, ADA ramps, and a vertical wheelchair lift to the pressbox. On the visitor side, the proposal suggests 11 rows of bleachers to hold approximately 1,729 people.

According to the study, the bleachers would be designed to mitigate noise. 

The school would also get a concessions building with ticket booths and restrooms, accessible ramps and accessible parking. 

As part of the plan, lighting on four 80-foot poles would illuminate the field.

The project is currently in the preliminary schematic design stages. Next, it will undergo a review to see if its construction could have a significant negative impact on the environment. 

It's unclear how much the project would cost.

A public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday in the El Toro High gym to provide the community an opportunity to learn more about the project proposal.

SVUSD is accepting comments on the study describing the proposed project through June 12.

The public will also have a chance to comment on the draft report summarizing the environmental impacts of the project from June 29 through Aug. 13.

In September, the SVUSD board is scheduled to hold a hearing regarding the proposal.

Those interested in commenting on the proposal can send written comments to Noemi Avila-Zamudio, Coordinator, Facilities Planning & Construction Department at 25631 Peter A. Hartman Way, Mission Viejo, CA 92691 or to avilan@svusd.org.

Andy O'Connor May 23, 2012 at 02:12 PM
SD cannot afford this expense. Earlier this week, SVUSD reported they are in dire financial situation. This construction needs to be postponed until SVUSD finances improve. Elementary grades for primary students grade 1-3 have 30+ students, the ratio needs to be 20:1 before we spend money on a football field.
Bob Clark May 23, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Agreed. SVUSD can ill afford to spend money frivolously. This money should be spent getting the schools back on track and again leading the nation in educational excellence. Even if such funds are earmarked only for facilities, there are tons of improvements to existing facilities that are needed far more than new bleachers. And 80-foot light standards are totally unnecessary. SVUSD tried this childish behavior a few years ago and got soundly spanked for it then. Looks like they "haven't learned" any more than the students.
Andrea May 23, 2012 at 04:25 PM
We have been told that the funds are coming from new housing development in Lake Forest so funds have to be spent on schools within Lake Forest ... and that are schools those new neighborhooods will attend. Quite frankly, the fact that ALL of the other high schools have usable fields and El Toro does not is a shame. Athletes, cheerleaders, and band students have to be bused to their home games (at a considerable expense to the district). We run into issues every year with Trabuco over field usage -- and lots of conflict. El Toro has to pay to find off-site graduation facilities. It is about time that we finish the stadium at El Toro. The students should be able to walk to practices, walk to football games, and enjoy being a part of their school.
Ian Morrell May 23, 2012 at 05:38 PM
This is not just a Football field. Right now El Toro High must use the field at Trabuco Hills for Football, Marching Band, Color Guard practice and events. Lacrosse, Track and Field, and Soccer are displaced to other remote fields at Los Alisos and Serrano Intermediate Schools and Trabuco Hills. Students are currently bussed from El Toro to Trabuco Hills (what a waste of money) and back for practices and events. This affects quite a few Lake Forest students and families. The positive benefits to a large group of Lake Forest residences are many…..let alone saving hours of time every week consumed by being bussed or having to hike to other field carrying equipment bags…… Time better spent on homework.
Linda May 23, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Having a student at El Toro High, we experience buses at the school for all athletic events on a daily basis. Ian Morrell is correct, this is very costly! The students also have to go to Trabuco Hills High School to practice, too! Last year we ran into several problems where THHS had other events and/or practices scheduled when there were scheduled Marching Band practices. THHS not only did not care, they felt that El Toro High School Students did not have the right to be there! El Toro was forced to go to the District to ask THHS to cooperate with ETHS and share their field! This is so wrong on many levels. Our High School students are being treated like they are homeless and no one cares! Our children, in our City deserve to feel like they belong here! Secondly, the ticket booths and concession stand will bring in badly needed money to the school, too! These will be filled and run by the athletic and music departments families and volunteers! This will keep these important programs going and give our students a better chance of getting into Universities! The more money we can raise, the less money the District has to put out! Give our ONLY High School Students in the City of Lake Forest the Home Field Advantage that they have never had! Show everyone that we have Pride in our great City of Lake Forest and in all the Children that live here!
Linda May 23, 2012 at 07:20 PM
We have how many Elementary schools in Lake Forest? But, we have only one High School, that all of the Elementary School children will be going to! This is their future, too!
George Moffat May 23, 2012 at 07:38 PM
About time!
MFriedrich May 23, 2012 at 08:39 PM
The ideal scenario would be to bulldoze the houses to the south and build a proper athletic field and stadium with bleachers, etc. That's not going to happen. Going a few miles across town to march a band and play a game of football is not a big deal. It's actually common at the college level too. Just ask the UCLA Bruins where they play their home games compared to campus. This doesn't detract from attendance, pride in the school, the athletes or the team. The Trabuco Hills stadium set up is far better for ETHS football. It's huge, and there's plenty of space for parking, easy to enter and depart. Adding bleachers to the dinky ETHS field, which is less than 25 yards away from the sidewalk and Serrano Rd? Not a good idea With El Toro road stoplights, traffic in and would be awful. Why do the ET football players and band players have to go to Trabuco Hills to practice? This makes no sense. A football practice field plus a huge athletic field area already exists at ETHS to perform practices. As for ticket and concessions revenue at ETHS home games at Trabuco stadium, this money goes to ETHS. It doesn't go to another school's athletic dept. or treasury. What's the driving urgency of this now? All of the sudden this is what hits our community's top priority list? Here's a better idea: Let's first identify the absolute worst thing or consequence that could happen if we don't do this? Exactly. I didn't think so either.
Ian Morrell May 23, 2012 at 09:13 PM
It is a big deal both yesterday and today. Half of the students at El Toro are involved in programs that are affected. They all require bussing at the expense of the parents. Thats worth $75.00 each. I know, it is what we pay along with the other fees to cover program....except its payable to the school district and not the school. Multiplied by approximately 1300 students......Thats an annual cost of $97,500!.....just for bussing. Our kids are NOT being paid to be a member of a college football team. And it does detract from the pride. I agree, the Trabuco Hills football field is better.... but it is also double booked and causes friction between the schools. How'd you like to get a call to help come and escort your kid on the field at their scheduled time when the other group won't.get.off? Marching Band and Football are fall sports. IE it gets dark early and one can't practice in the dark.
Linda May 23, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Two points: 1. THHS does not want ETHS to practice or perform on their campus. If you read the earlier posts, you would see the fights that they have been having over the field. 2. There are no lights at ETHS, so they cannot practice at their home field and are forced to go to THHS, which is much farther than a few miles! Plus we have to drop them off and pick them up at THHS, which takes up a lot of gas. Okay, three points. 3. We cannot do concession stand sales at THHS, therefore we are loosing revenue that the parent volunteers can raise for the teams and bands! There is no driving urgency here, this is something that has been needed and asked for for years! The absolute worse thing that can happen, and is happening, is we loose all of our athletic and music programs completely, due to low interest in the community and loss of money that could be raised by the families involved in these important programs! Does that sound important enough for you?
Andrea May 23, 2012 at 11:05 PM
And as a graduate of UCLA, you're right that playing at the Rose Bowl was not a negative part of the college experience, BUT all practices were held on campus on fields that had lights. The years that UCLA shared a field with USC were horrible -- conflicts over the field plus issues with scheduling. This past year Trabuco had to play a Thursday night game to accommodate El Toro's schedule. The district got lucky that Trabuco didn't qualify to play in post-season, or it would have been worse trying to schedule 2 home playoff games for the same stadium. Only other way to truly solve the problem is for the district to build another stadium at some site within Lake Forest ... at a huge cost to district to buy the land, build the stadium, and still have to bus students there for events.
MFriedrich May 24, 2012 at 12:39 AM
USC and UCLA don't have to worry about money donations. I love football as much as the next person. And I feel for the players and students who don't have the same things that the Jones's have (Mission Viejo High School, Trabuco High School, etc.) - something to call their own. But like anything else, we seem to be confused about the community wants versus what we need. I want a Porsche 911, but I'm definitely driving a Honda Accord. We seem to be willing to commit the same mistakes without thinking it through. All I'm saying is, let's prioritize. Let's be prudent with the scarce resources we have. If we can afford it and it's feasible, then great. Go nuts. But if the LF community can't afford it, then I think it's prudent to wait until the funds are accrued and we're ready. That's all.
Jose Jimenez May 24, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Marching Band is not a sport...
Dale Robertson May 24, 2012 at 01:44 AM
I live across Serrano from the high school and at the time of our purchasing our home a football stadium was never in the planning. I currently live with the kids parking in our neighborhood, leaving their lunch trash behind. The marching band practicing till all hours, the coaches whistles at 6 a.m. from the pool. Parking problems, the noise, the trash would only increase with this proposed stadium. The people that are for this new stadium I am sure do not live any where near the area surrounding the high school and thus would not be effected by the above mentioned problems.
MFriedrich May 24, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Linda, So when I attended an ET football game last fall at Trabuco, who was it that I bought the candy bars, popcorn and soft drinks from? I also noticed they were selling glow in the dark link chains and and blue and gray El Toro football t-shirts and jerseys too.
MFriedrich May 24, 2012 at 03:54 AM
Is this the part where we care about what the neighbors think? I'm just kidding. Sorry about that Dale. :) But you know you forgot about the lights - the ones that will allow the football team and marching bad to practice, presumably at different times at night. Looking at the "bright side of things" you and your neighbors won't need yard lights anymore. You won't need musical entertainment either. While you're at it, start filing that petition today to change the name of Serrano to "Broadway".
Ian Morrell May 24, 2012 at 06:56 AM
The important point is that many school activities need the use of the field....Marching Band status as a "Sport" is not relevant. FYI....Particpating in Marching Band is expensive....North of $700.00 a year. BTW Marching Band qualifies as a physical education class.
Ian Morrell May 24, 2012 at 07:10 AM
What money donations do we make? Why do you equate "us" as being less than the Jones's? Are you saying we need to lower our expectations because we're not the Jones's? What are your priorities? What are the scarce resouces? Based on the restricted use allocation (SVUSD restricted fund use for improvement to Lake Forest schools) what would you do? In light of this....how is it that LF community can't afford it?
DLR May 24, 2012 at 02:53 PM
So Dale, exactly why did you buy a house near a high school? School was there first, sorry. How about becoming an active supporter of that school instead of fighting everything that goes on there. Those kids are our future and we not only as a City but as a Country are doing a huge disservice to to them. We'd love for the community to be engaged in all our activities. Oh, and by the way, band does not practice "till all hours", no lights. And you're wrong. Many of those that want a stadium live right in your neighborhood and others around the school.
PBT May 24, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Most school districts share stadiums for sporting events. Orange Unified has Canyon, Villa Park, Orange High and El Modena Share Kelly Stadium at El Modena High School. The bigger problem Is the amount of homes Lake Forest is putting in and not building a new Elementary School or Middle school. Many kids have to go out to Santa Margarita for middle school. Elementary kids are going to have to be driven 1.5 to 3 miles to go to school. The priorities of this district are so screwed up.
Craig Hermann May 24, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Now is not the time. A report just came out today that 1/3 of homeowners are upside down on their home values, our state is virtually bankrupt, teachers and administrators had their pay cut 10%, our state is almost dead last in education quality and you want to spend money so the teams don't have to drive 10 minutes to THHS for home games? Play games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons and nights - just like I did when I played football in HS. So life isn't fair - let's just not make it unfair AND more expensive until we first fix our schools. Craig Hermann
MFriedrich May 24, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Collect the donations and build a stadium. Maybe there's a rich miser and football fanatic somewhere in the community, a Lake Forest T. Boone Pickens, who can pony up the dough. I would rather see the community decide on something to benefit all students, not just the cheerleaders, marching band and football players. How about adding on and modernizing the school structures in the district? Look at home many makeshift mobile classrooms have been built on elementary, middle and high school properties in OC? They are small, run down, poorly ventilated and poorly air conditioned buildings. But no, forget that noise. Let's build a football stadium! Yeah, because in times like these that's what what's preventing our kids from securing their futures.
Linda May 24, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Well, we will find out for certain tonight at the meeting, but if you read Andrea's post, the money is not coming fro our schools or state, but from the builder's who are building new neighborhoods in Lake Forest and they set aside so much money for the schools that will be impacted. Since we only have one high school, makes sense that some of the money will be spent there. Check with your schools, or the developer's, to see if they will be getting any money to improve, too. How come no one was up in arms when Serrano got their badly needed gym a few years ago? Because they need it! This is not an improvement just for the football team and marching band, it's for all of the athletic and music programs! The kid's that park in the surrounding neighborhoods and dump trash all around, are not these kids as they care about the community and themselves and are always trying to be better people! Lastly, if we had, at least, lights on the field, our kid's could practice at their own school. You are all acting like this only affects games, but it encompasses everything, especially in the fall and winter when it gets dark at 5pm. Then they would be able to practice directly after school until 7pm and go home, which will be close by! Can't help you on the swim team, as they have their own private area and do not use the fields. But, you knew there was a high school when you moved there, just like the people that live next to the train tracks, it was your choice.
Linda May 24, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Forgot to mention having to move all of their equipment to another school just to practice, and bring it all back when they are done, several times a week!. This would eliminate that, too!
Dale Robertson May 24, 2012 at 11:21 PM
DLR, I understand the school was there first and can accept most things associated with that but the stadium was not there and our houses were here first! I have supported that school through 2 children and continue to support their athletic programs even today. So please do not preach to me about support. Oh by the way, the band does practice at all hours, they just do it in the empty parking lot adjacent to the swim stadium which seems to be working just fine based on the awards they have won over the years for the quality of their band.
PBT May 25, 2012 at 06:00 PM
They don't have to practice at THHS. Please tell me one Trinity league school that has a stadium at there school. They are arguably the most successful programs in the state. Portable Musco lighting systems work great. Your arguments make it sound like no sport should have away games because of cost. Football only has 5-6 home games a year. This is a complete waste of money. The money should go to a new Elementary school where they are building 2400 homes.
Joseph Lanterna May 26, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Although modern lighting technology will reduce "spillover" the fact remains that with football, soccer, lacrosse, and band using the field, it will be lit up virtually every night. No combined event/practice schedule was presented, probably for good reason. There should be more consideration for the residents who will looking at these lights every night. My biggest concern is for parking and traffic. The parking estimates presented barely handled current "home games" at Trabuco Hills HS. Every suporter of the field expressed expectation of increased attendance, so the excess parking and traffic will spill into the surrounding neighborhoods.
Hank Deming May 28, 2012 at 06:10 PM
What happened to the Measure B funds that were approved over 7 years ago specifically for this project? The Measure B funding stated the stadium must be build "off site" and for some reason, the project did not go forward as SVUSD wanted it built at the High school. The City of Lake Forest agreed to work with SVUSD and ETHS to build a sports park which would incorporate ETHS school needs. The city is still planning the sports park and has not broken ground as yet. The money the district has now (redevelopment funds), could be used to replace the portable classrooms at ETHS, or greater needs throughout the district. Where is this Measure B money now?
angela June 08, 2012 at 04:53 PM
The city sportspark barely has the parking to accommodate the entities who will be using those fields. THAT is a CITY park. Give our kids a home stadium.
Dennis Amundson dennisamundson@ymail.com October 07, 2012 at 09:37 PM
When you have a kid like Alec Shoffiett playing for eltoro put the damn lights in so we can see our star shine every school should have a field to play on and we all know their # 1 get off your buts and get this field updated Dennis!!!

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