A community soccer league added the NFL to a lawsuit against the city of Santa Clara on Monday. The amended complaint was filed just as contractors began converting the 11-acre soccer park across from Levi’s Stadium into a media center for next month’s Super Bowl 50.
The Santa Clara Youth Soccer League filed the lawsuit against the city last week, but expanded it to include the NFL after the professional sports league took over the soccer park Monday morning—a day after the regular season ended. Soccer advocates allege that city officials illegally commandeered the fields, displacing thousands of soccer players, to make way for the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.
City officials allegedly withheld Super Bowl plans from the youth sports league until Dec. 15, according to Comcast SportsNet, and agreed to close the soccer fields without holding a legally mandated public hearing. Soccer advocates claim the city also flouted its own permit rules, which reserve the fields for youth soccer organizations.
According to the lawsuit filed Dec. 30 in Santa Clara County Superior Court, the city broke its own rules about changing the conditional use permit for the fields.
The soccer league claims the city’s decision leaves as many as 6,000 players without a place for home games, which could force them to forfeit a state championship run. Santa Clara offered up two soccer fields at the Twin Creeks Sports Complex from Jan. 4 through Feb. 25. Youth sports leaders say those fields are too small to host games and only available on weekdays, while the league plays games on weekends.
The original complaint named only the city and sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the NFL from taking over the fields. A judge denied the restraining order request, but asked the NFL to hold off on any major changes to the fields until the issue could be worked out in court.
The soccer league said in its amended complaint that the NFL would destroy the fields, despite a written agreement to repair them after the Super Bowl, according to the Mercury News. NFL officials told the newspaper that they plan to move forward with Super Bowl plans, despite the lawsuit.
A court date was scheduled for Wednesday, but Judge Joseph Huber agreed to hold an emergency hearing on the matter Tuesday morning.
— SCYSL (@scysl) January 4, 2016