SJ judge to rule on NFL's use of youth soccer field for Super Bowl

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ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Youth soccer league battles NFL in court as Super Bowl looms
Soccer group argues 6,000 youth players have nowhere else to play if NFL takes over their fields for the Super Bowl.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- The NFL, recently added to a lawsuit by Santa Clara's Youth Soccer League, appeared in court in San Jose Monday over plans to use the group's soccer field for the Super Bowl. And it appears a deal might be in the works to settle the dispute.

Contractors for the NFL have wasted no time covering the grass and turning the Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park into a media center and security headquarters for Super Bowl 50.

Still, the attorney for the youth league is back in court, seeking an injunction to stop the work, even though Santa Clara agreed two years ago to let the NFL use the facility. The soccer group says 6,000 young players have no place else to play. The NFL's attorney wondered why there was a last-minute objection.

VIDEO: San Jose judge turns down bid to stop NFL from working on youth soccer field

"Nobody said boo about any of the arrangements or the likelihood, or the fact, that the NFL would need these soccer fields," NFL attorney Allen Ruby said.

Youth Soccer League president Tino Silva says they were left in the dark at meeting after meeting. He told reporters, "And in those meetings, we've asked, 'What can we expect when the Super Bowl comes?' and we were told all the way up until the middle of December, 'We don't know.'"

If Judge Joseph Huber grants an injunction, it would send the NFL scrambling to move visiting media and its security operation. However, both sides left court hopeful a deal can be reached to provide a facility, such as Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes, at no cost to the soccer league.

Currently, rows and rows of plastic covering are being laid on top of the soccer field next to Levi's Stadium. That will support facilities for the media, security personnel and production staff for Super Bowl 50. The covering concerns a youth soccer league board member because it's their field.

"All that water is probably pooling underneath those plastic boards, and the cause of that is going to be either generation of bacteria that is probably going to kill the grass, or the grass will drown because it's underneath these boards," said Gabe Foo, a Youth Soccer League board member.

"We are certainly open to talking to the other sides, looking for solutions because at the end of the day, that's what we want. We want solutions," Youth Soccer League attorney Gautam Dutta said.

"I know that some of the availability is still being worked out with some of the alternate sites. I do anticipate having some further discussions with the host committee and others to try to nail down more specificity on that issue," Santa Clara City attorney Ren Nosky said.

The judge will issue his decision Tuesday morning.

VIDEO: Hearing on restraining order filed by Santa Clara youth soccer league

READ: Fight over Santa Clara fields pits NFL against youth soccer league

Last week, the sod was removed after the 49ers' final home game against the Rams. The team has replaced the sod several times, after players complained about poor footing, usually after concerts held there. The NFL usually installs new grass inside the Super Bowl venue anyway.

Get the latest on Super Bowl 50 by clicking here.