By Steve Virgen
10:08 PM PST, November 13, 2012
The story about a new football stadium at Corona del Mar High is not a new one. But the plans were officially revealed at the Newport-Mesa Unified School Board meeting Tuesday night.
They were presented with flair, aggressiveness and organization.
What else would you expect from the school's legendary cross-country coach, Bill Sumner?
He waited patiently during other items on the agenda. Then came his time during the community input portion of the meeting. Sumner had but three minutes to present his plan.
Not a problem. Just another obstacle to surpass.
Sumner showed his determination with a plan that was explained to a supportive school board in less than three minutes.
The stadium is to feature a nine-lane track, synthetic field turf, seats for 1,500 (1,000 on the home side) and enhanced landscaping, which means it will not only be state-of-the-art, but a piece of art.
Sumner provided a rendering for the school board, but perhaps most importantly, he delivered a $15,000 check to the district that set off a mixture of raised eyebrows and smiles. He also told them that the effort will be privately funded.
"I know the thought of a new stadium might scare some people," Sumner said, "but it's time to step up to the plate and build a stadium."
Sumner asked for the board's support as he leads an effort to raise $3.8 million to make it happen.
A new football stadium at CdM makes sense. The school's football team is the defending CIF Southern Section Southern Division champion and the top-seeded Sea Kings play in a quarterfinal game on Friday.
You think there's hope for the future? The CdM freshman football team just completed a second-straight undefeated season and the Sea Kings have a 26-game winning streak going.
The boys' and girls' soccer teams have competitive teams every year and feature some of the best talent in Orange County.
Sumner knows this. He wants a stadium in place that will last decades after he's gone.
But what's a cross-country coach doing leading an effort to get a new football stadium built? The simple answer is, he's about the only guy that can get it done.
After Sumner finished his presentation, a few board members wanted to comment. Karen Yelsey, a school board member who knows Sumner well, with her children former standout runners for him, was one of them.
"When he puts his mind to get something done, he gets it done," Yelsey said of Sumner.
She also proposed to get the stadium issue on the agenda for the next meeting, which is now the case.
Sumner has his effort out to a strong start.
Money talks. The $15,000 check helped put the plan in action. Paul Reed, the district's deputy superintendent, accepted the check on the board's behalf and advised that it be used to fund a field study on what it will take to build the stadium.
For sure, it will take more efforts similar to what Sumner gave on Tuesday night.
"We're on the bus," Sumner said, providing an analogy." We just have to get fuel in it."