Youth soccer league halted due to NFL’s Super Bowl

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Youth soccer players in Santa Clara, California won’t be able to play for a couple of months in 2016 due to the Super Bowl “media village” being set up on their fields.

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With Levi’s Stadium the host for Super Bowl 50, the NFL will shut down the soccer facility for almost two months as they create a “media village” on the soccer pitches for the showpiece event.

What is all the fuss about here? Well, the NFL had previously stated it would only be using the soccer pitches as a staging area for the halftime show but a last-minute switch has seen what one parents calls a “world-class soccer facility” reduced to a media patch of land organizers can now do whatever they want with.

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Cue outrage from many involved within the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League as over 250 games will have to be moved or rescheduled during the time period the pitches are out of action, while many are concerned about damage to the pitches.

More on this from ProFootballTalk’s Darin Gantt below:

Cities will hand over whatever it takes — and specifically, whatever the NFL wants — for a chance to land a Super Bowl.

And some Santa Clara soccer players are learning a real-life lesson in the business of the NFL, as their club’s complex is about to be taken over for two months by the NFL to create a “media village” near Levi’s Stadium for Super Bowl 50.

The 49ers and NFL care more about the property than the kids,” 16-year-old Andrew Robertson said, via Ramona Giwargis of the San Jose Mercury News. “I think it’s pretty unfair because that park has been there even before the plans for the stadium. I just think we deserve to be there.”

(Suddenly, I feel like the Grinch patting Cindy Lou Who on top of her precious little head, and telling her one of the lights on her tree is out, and I’m taking it to my shop on Mount Crumpit to fix.)

Sorry Andrew, but of course the NFL cares more about property than the kids. Because property is worth money, and kids and soccer games (250 or so which will have to be moved and rescheduled) are collateral damage in their war to conquer the hearts and minds and wallets of America.

But beyond the inconvenience of the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League (which will lose its fields from Jan. 4 to March 2), there are also questions about just what else the city turned over to the league.

The 49ers and the league have promised to replace two grass fields at the park after the Super Bowl, and team spokesman Bob Lange said it was all part of the 2013 bid to land the game. But the soccer moms don’t have to like it, saying the takeover of the soccer park was a last-minute switch, since the park was originally supposed to be a staging area for the halftime show.

“This is a world-class soccer facility and they’re going to destroy it,” said councilwoman Lisa Gillmor, who happens to be a soccer mom as well. “I’m appalled at this behavior. It reeks of stinky backroom deals and I’m sick of it.”

Of course, “it reeks of stinky backroom deals” is practically a league motto, and the innocent soccer players and their moms in minivans aren’t going to change that.

A joint-statement released by the Super Bowl hosting team, the San Francisco 49ers, and the NFL on Dec. 8 said the following regarding the soccer fields:

“The 49ers and the NFL are partnering to replace the two natural grass fields at the Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park at no cost to the City of Santa Clara. Installation of those fields will begin following the completion of Super Bowl related activities, which are scheduled to conclude on February 28.”

It is also been stated that the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League knew all along that their fields would be out of action for the two-month time period. It was also clear that when the deal was signed by the City of Santa Clara and the NFL in 2013 to use the land around the stadium for Super Bowl activities, no specific guarantees were given as to how the land would be used. The NFL has also promised to repair any damage done to the facility.