The long awaited debut of the new Memorial Field premiered for the public on Saturday, February 25 at 11:00 a.m. at a touching dedication ceremony. Many long time residents, military veterans, city officials, school district officials, former athletes and current students gathered to take in a piece of local history.
“Memorial Field” is now officially a stadium after undergoing a 12-million dollar facelift the past two years. It will eventually house football games, soccer matches, track meets, graduations and more in the years ahead. However, Saturday was more about remembering the past.
The dedication honored those who had served in World War II and who the original field had been dedicated to in 1946.
Several thousand people gathered in the home stands as the field was dedicated by a panel of honorees that included Chief of the Veterans Commemorative Committee Mickey DePalo, Mayor Jesse Talamantes, City Manager Michael Flad, Board of Education President Ted Bunch and Burbank Unified Schools’ Superintendent Stan Carrizosa.
At the ceremony’s conclusion, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony and a victory lap on the new track. The joint venture between the city and the schools was more than two decades in the making from talk to completion and was the vision of so many over the years.
Talamantes and Flad both spoke of having played on the field as alumni of Burroughs High. Flad had the line of the morning when speaking of a controversial loss to the Bulldogs during the Big Game of 1984 when Burbank got two chances to kick a game-winning field goal following a penalty.
“I promised then to see the stadium and everything in it torn down, and here we are,” he said to a roar of laughter from the crowd.
Talamantes referenced how many members of his family have participated in athletics and activities on the old Memorial Field.
The ceremony first and foremost honored those who have served this country, including the two teachers and 25 students who the original Memorial Field was dedicated to in 1946. Bunch referenced their stories in his speech.
A flyover began the day, followed by a presentation of the colors by the United States Marines from the Los Angeles Recruiting Station of Eagle Rock. It concluded with an art unveiling of the piece titled “Home” by Sheila Cavalluzzi depicting a soldier home from war.
More than anything else the events surrounding the event also reminded the community members who had turned out to see the dedication ceremony what a joint-venture between the schools and city the field truly is. A JV baseball game was being played in the background while tennis lessons took place on the nearby courts.
Former coaches and current coaches could be seen wearing huge grins through the dedication after both the Burbank and Burroughs football teams played all ten of their contests on the road this past season including their rivalry game played at Arcadia High School.
Carrizosa thanked current students and staff for their patience through construction. The stadium will first see action during the upcoming track season. The Burroughs graduation is expected to be held at the stadium this May, after being relocated to the Starlight Bowl last year.