SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) --Work crews in the South Bay spent the day removing grass at the Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park. The NFL used those fields as part of its Super Bowl setup. There are 6,000 soccer players that are still displaced and league officials spoke to ABC7 News.
Soccer league leaders have been taking on the NFL and the city of Santa Clara for putting the interests of the Super Bowl ahead of young athletes. The status of their still-active lawsuit against the NFL will largely depend on the repairs to these fields. They want to insure that the NFL restores the field to pre-Super Bowl condition or better. They say there is no bitterness, but it hopes this won't happen again without advance notice.
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Santa Clara's Youth Soccer League president Tino Silva isn't surprised to see the dying and dead grass as workers pull out heavy, plastic platforms on Field 1.
The NFL has possession of the park for another month, during which it will replant grass and restore fields.
"We should be able to play on it as soon as it's put down, but we want to be cautious and make sure that the grass has taken, the roots have taken, and when we go back and play on it, that it's going to be at the level that we had prior to when the NFL took over," Silva said.
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Soccer league leaders did a site inspection Tuesday with representatives of the 49ers and the NFL.
Their relationship turned icy last month when the soccer group went to court to stop the NFL from using it. The NFL prevailed and the fields were used for Super Bowl 50 media and a security village. The soccer group says it will forgive, but not forget.
"We've had a meeting of the minds. I think they know where we're coming from. We understand what they're up against, but again, if we were transparent from the beginning, we wouldn't be having this conversation today," Silva said.
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Silva says the league had to scramble to find alternate practice fields because the city agreed to the NFL deal just days before Christmas.
The lawsuit against Santa Clara is still in place, even though the Super Bowl has come and gone. Silva hopes soccer kids learned something from this.
"I don't think anybody wanted to bring suit against the city. I don't think anybody wanted to be in this predicament, but I think the kids learned that sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in and what's right," Silva said.
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