In a role reversal, the Bulldogs will make the trip across town to play home games in West High’s Steve Lopez Stadium. Tracy High shared its turf, Peter B. Kyne Field, with the Wolf Pack football team for 14 years, until West opened its own stadium in 2008.
Bulldog players said that they aren’t affected by the change, except that they’ll miss playing at home, and the seniors won’t be able to play in the new Wayne Schneider Stadium.
“I’m disappointed in that for sure, but I’ll be back to see it,” said senior quarterback Luke Hanna. “It will be different, but we’ll still come out with the same intensity and be ready to play. It’s just a field. We’ll play on it the same way we play here.”
Senior running back and safety Michael Figuerido said he expected the trips across town would be a minor inconvenience.
“West High did it. We’ll probably do better,” he said. “We’ll just play out there like it’s our own home field.”
While players said they don’t mind the change, coach Matt Shrout said there was plenty of resistance when he first selected West as the temporary venue for this year’s home games.
“Their mentality was that they didn’t care where they played, but they didn’t want to be at West at all,” Shrout said.
It turned out, though, that the move to West for a year was the best solution available.
“It’s a good fix for us, and it works for us to go over there,” Shrout said. “We play 10 games and hopefully more, and it doesn’t matter where we play. We’ve still got to win them.”
The crosstown rivalry intensifies when the Bulldogs and Wolf Pack face off against each other. Former West coach Steve Lopez said that was especially true in West’s early years in the mid-1990s, when Tracy’s Peter B. Kyne Field had to accommodate the team from the newest school in town.
“It was interesting to say the least,” Lopez said, adding that he heard plenty of grumbling from Tracy High fans when the Wolf Pack was the home team every other year for the Crosstown Classic.
“It was a madhouse — how we could expect Tracy fans to sit on the visitors’ side of their home field,” Lopez said. “It was ridiculous, but it got better.”
That won’t be an issue this year, as West is the home team for the 2012 Crosstown Classic, which will be played in Steve Lopez Stadium on Sept. 21.
Lopez added that the good news for Tracy is that the Bulldogs know they will have a new stadium in 2013. He said West went year to year with the promise that a stadium would soon open on the Lowell Avenue campus.
“Every couple of years, there was a big push, where we were going to get a field. They’d say that the Class of 2001 will be the first to graduate on your home field, then it was the Class of 2005,” Lopez said. “I had three kids go to West High, and all three thought they would graduate at West High, and none of them did.”
Lopez coached two more years, in 2008 and 2009, after the new stadium opened before he retired.
Aside from the football team’s temporary move and the noise and dust from construction, others displaced by the stadium construction said they would not have to make huge changes to their routines.
Soccer coach Phil Kalis said his teams are already accustomed to being shuttled from one field to another. Most of the team’s home games have been at Peter B. Kyne Field. The team also plays at Central School on Eaton Avenue, which this year is the team’s regular practice field. The Bulldogs will have home games on West High’s grass field.
“We’re not really going to be affected, because we’ve been training here (Central School) for the past three or four years. We played half of our games in the stadium, but half of them were in a different location anyway,” Kalis said. “Next year, it will just affect us in a positive way.”
When the stadium opens, the new configuration will allow for a larger soccer field for the boys and girls teams on the north side of the campus.
Also adjusting to a year on the road are the Tracy Breakfast Lions, who run the snack bar at Bulldog home football games. The snack bar building will remain intact and reopen with the new stadium. Until then, the service club will set up its portable grill next to the West High snack bar.
Jim Noah, the Lions’ snack bar manager, said the group would serve tri-tip sandwiches, hamburgers, hot links and hot dogs, as always.
“It will be different. Their snack bar is smaller than ours, and we’re a little more organized with our stuff,” he said. “It will take a little adjustment, but we’ll handle it.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.