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Youth Soccer League Sues NFL Over Field Use

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The NFL plans to transform the turf at a youth soccer complex next to Levi’s Stadium into a space for media broadcasts for the upcoming Super Bowl, but representatives of the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League plan to fight them.

The NFL has plans to use city-owned soccer fields for international broadcasters, NFL Films and a media workroom, and as a part of the process of readying the space, has begun digging holes to remove sprinklers.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League had already sued the city of Santa Clara last week in attempt to block the NFL from borrowing their fields, claiming that the city didn’t follow proper procedure changing the conditional use permit. The soccer league sought a temporary restraining order, but until recently, had only named the city of Santa Clara.

Now, the NFL itself is named in an expanded lawsuit.

Soccer groups have known since 2013 that the park would be used for the Super Bowl, but didn’t know the complex would be used as a media village. The NFL’s plan for the fields requires that fences and dugouts be removed.

The NFL took possession of the soccer fields yesterday, and has an agreement with the city to maintain possession until March 2.

Brian McCarthy, the NFL’s vice president of communications, said that that the league plans to take measures to protect the fields.

“All equipment will be placed on top of the fields that will be will be covered by plastic fabrication to avoid any direct load on the surface,” McCarthy said. “There is no paving on the playing fields. Vehicle access will be limited and only allowed on specified pathways. Golf cart and pedestrian access will also be restricted to these areas.”

A joint statement issued by the NFL, the Super Bowl Committee and the San Francisco 49ers said that the pending litigation would not deter plans for transforming the soccer fields. 

“We are thankful that the Super Bowl plans and build-out will continue on schedule. We are poised to deliver a great Super Bowl experience and leave a positive, lasting legacy for the community,” the statement read.

The digging project started yesterday, despite Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Joseph H. Huber asking that the NFL not make “drastic changes” to the field until the issue could be heard in court on Wednesday.

An emergency hearing for the case is scheduled to take place this morning. 

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