HomeCommunity NewsDistrict Reaches License Agreement With Los Angeles Soccer Club

District Reaches License Agreement With Los Angeles Soccer Club

The battle of the La Cañada High School fields is over, at least for now.
The La Cañada School District Board of Education unanimously voted this week to pick the Los Angeles Soccer Club to sign a one-year license for weekend field usage only, giving weekday priority to district students and sport teams who’ve long contended with sharing the space with a third-party user.
The Board chose the L.A. Soccer Club over two other bids from longtime tenant LA Surf and the La Cañada Spartan Booster Club after asking all three for a weekend-only field usage proposal. LA Surf declined to bid for weekends-only and the Booster Club withdrew its bid as its initial goal was to secure weekday field usage for district students.
The debate whether the LCHS stadium field should solely go toward LCHS students and athletics or to a shared system with a third party has been a year-to-year ordeal, and one that continuously received impassioned pleas among community parents, staff and club members at district meetings.
“Ever since the school hours were changed, there’s been an increasing need for field use in the afternoon,” said Governing Board member Dan Jeffries, noting that since school start times were pushed back to 8:30 a.m., first by the district and later through the state mandate, the number of hours available for field usage was compressed.
“Added to that was an increased desire by various sports,” he said. “We have sports that weren’t played previously, new sports, 7/8 sports, JV sports, freshmen sports. We have a lot more sports programs that also increase the pressures on our fields… We all recognize that there’s a heavy demand for fields in our community and a heavy demand for fields by our student athletes.”
For about 20 years, LA Surf had continuously signed a license with the district for the usage of the LCHS stadium field.
According to the LA Surf Soccer Club Director Barry Ritson and LCF Sports Coalition Director Marco Quezada, the club has had to cut down more on their time over the years to make room for LCHS athletics.
“We’ve always been really close and really good partners with the district all the way through 20 years of not missing a payment, fulfilling all financial commitments and even absorbing some of the additional financial needs of the school,” Ritson told the Outlook Valley Sun before the Board’s decision. “Over time, the needs of the school changed and we understood that. So whenever we were asked that ‘we need another couple of hours,’ we’d always make it work for our schedules.
“But over the multiple agreements, we found ourselves not only contributing more cash and more money, but also getting less and less time,” he added.
The district asked each group if it would be willing to bid for LCHS field on weekends only after turning in their initial proposals, and the only group that made an offer was the L.A. Soccer Club. It bid $25,000 for one year of weekend usage only, Saturdays 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
L.A. Soccer Club has no previous history with LCHS or the district but has been keeping an eye on the bidding process to put in their proposal, said Executive Director Brian Waltrip, who is a La Cañada Flintridge resident.
He is excited about the partnership, he said, especially because he lives locally.
“We look forward to being a good partner to the school district and hopefully to help the community in any way we can,” said Waltrip. “We’re thankful to be able to use the field and we want to make sure that we not only say that but show it. We do believe that school takes first priority, and it is their field. We want to make sure that we work together with them and provide them with the space that they need.”
Although LA Surf did not provide a weekend-only bid, the club added additional equipment donations to the district in its offer.
LA Surf laid out in its bid that it would need at least Monday and Wednesday, and sometimes Friday depending on the time of the year, for $4,140 per month. The group also hoped to negotiate a 3-year agreement with the district rather than an annual one.
The club paid $3,477.63 per month for its last one-year license with the district, which ended in June.
The soccer club also offered to provide four flat training goals to replace some of the current full-sized game goals to help manage space on the field and donate 30 Nike soccer balls for the LCHS soccer teams every year.
Despite the challenges, LA Surf sought to renew its license with the district each year.
“This has been our home for as long as I have been in the organization, over 20 years, and many years before that,” Ritson said. “I take pride in being, along with Marco Quezada, ever present in the city when it comes to youth club soccer. We want to be the very best partner for the district.”
As the former head LCHS varsity boys’ soccer coach, Ritson said he has “watched soccer be under-resourced and under-represented in the city over time. We have too many kids who could benefit from the sport to walk away now and build a new home in another city.”
The third initial bid came from the La Cañada Spartan Booster Club, who previously also was a third-party vendor with the district for the field. In the most recent bidding process, the Boosters made a bid to donate $40,000 to ensure that field use would go to LCHS athletics first and not license out the turf field on weekdays.
Since the Board was choosing a weekend-only agreement, the Boosters withdrew the bid.
“With the new proposed RFP adjustment of not leasing Monday through Friday, and just leasing Saturday and Sunday at a competitive rate ($150-$37 per hour) the Boosters’ offer of $40,000 is not necessary, as LCUSD could potentially double to triple the amount of revenue it has been receiving annually ($40,000 for 2,600+ hours) on its own, and max out the amount that can be raised by leasing the field in accordance with the Civic Center Act,” read the proposal from the Boosters on July 5.
Over the past two school board meetings on June 6 and June 27, about 20 public speakers addressed the Board about the license, which has influenced the Board to only consider allowing a third-party use the field on the weekend, according to LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette.
Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Services Melissa Greenwood told the Board that she met with LCHS sport teams, the band and other programs that use the field during the school year to figure out the specific needs and make a tentative schedule.
During the June 6 meeting, Quezada spoke in favor of LA Surf as an LCF resident for 25 years.
“I love soccer. My kids love soccer, and I know this community loves soccer,” said Quezada. “That’s based on the fact that we have three first division teams in Los Angeles.”
Local parent Sugi Sorensen also spoke before the Board, specifically about the LCHS lacrosse team.
“Most of the time, they play on fields that are not La Cañada High School because they don’t have access to those fields,” said Sorensen. “The La Cañada High School varsity coach is paying $200 an hour to use a field in Glendale, because he can’t get access to our own field.”
He asked that the district consider the needs of all parties, not just LA Surf or the high school teams.
Public comments from community members in the June 27 meeting discussed more turf opportunities, LCHS athletic teams going to different places to practice and play games, as well as LA Surf’s involvement with the district.
“I want to point out what actually is quite obvious, that our first and foremost mission as parents and as you, the Board, is to put our students first priority in all the decisions and actions that you do,” said LCF resident Joleen O’Brien. “So, it’s been really frustrating and perplexing to me that for so many years the issue of limited field space has been made worse by giving our stadium field’s premium hours to an outside organization, and I feel like that is not making our students a priority.”
During the July 10 meeting, the Board discussed their two priorities in the bidding process in response to public speakers demanding LCUSD students get first priority for the field.
“The highest priority is making sure that we can find time on the field for our student athletes, but we also have a fiduciary duty to our district to try and maximize the revenue,” said Jeffries.
Board President Joe Radabaugh explained that the process to find a balanced agreement that could be a “win win” for the district was tough, in that striving only for weekend time would result in a monetary loss.


Sorensen brought up the idea of renting the field at market rate, which is the cost of something decided by the free market rather than an arranged, fixed price, and that the district should maximize its dollars rather than selling its field for $15 an hour.
“The field usage should be to improve student skills and improve our student experiences and improve our schools’ teams and user groups,” said Sorensen. “It is secondarily, perhaps, to gain additional revenue or license our field to private user groups. So, if you decide to sell the weekend time, and I know there are some concerns [about] burdening staff, at the least, the district should get market rate.”
The Board became curious about the answer.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Wayne Page explained to the Board that he did an analysis himself of the various parks and fields around the area and what their market rate was.
“We did assess all the surrounding town field rates, about seven or eight of them, and it’s around $150 to $307 an hour for a comparable turf field,” said Page, adding that the soccer club practicing at La Crescenta High School pays $150 per hour and that Glendale High School charges up to $375 per hour for their field.
Page brought up the idea of just renting out the LCHS field on the weekends to any third party that would want to use it, but Jeffries challenged the idea due to the scheduling complexities.
“If we did an hourly rental, we may have someone come in and says ‘yeah, I’ll rent it on Sundays from three to four, or I’ll rent it for a short period of time,’” said Jeffries. “So, you could actually end up losing by not having a set number of hours that you’ve sold, and you’ve added the complication of a personnel there to open the field, close the field and monitoring the field.”
“Market rate is only market rate if you have people who pay it,” said Governing Board Vice President Josh Epstein. “And I don’t argue (with) you that it’s possible. But I don’t know if we have the appetite to do that right now.”
Other speakers encouraged the district to coordinate with the city and utilize a new program that can help schedule field/park time, called ActiveLCF, which is set to come out this summer.
After voting to approve the L.A. Soccer Club bid for the LCHS Stadium field License, the Board acknowledged that they would take the coming school year to figure out and track when the field is in use during weekdays.
“I’d just like to emphasize the importance of tracking our usage,” said Governing Board member Octavia Thuss. “That’s the thing that’s weighed heavily in my mind, so that we are not wasting our space.”
“There’s no perfect solution here,” said Epstein. “We are going to be figuring things out as we go, and one of the blessings of this RFP is that it is a one-year license.”
“We can learn from this process this year and change the process next year as we rethink,” he added. “And I think that what is crystal clear to me is that weekday time needs to go back to the students. I think that’s a given, at least in my mind. That is something that the community has been asking for. So, I feel really good about making that choice. I’m excited to see where that leaves us this year.”

First published in the July 13 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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