Several years of painstaking effort finally came to fruition on the evening of Friday, November 2, 2007, when the gates to Palisades High School’s newly-renovated Stadium by the Sea were opened for the Dolphins’ homecoming football game against archrival Venice. Palisadian Bob Jeffers and Jim Bailey from Brentwood co-chaired the $1.7-million renovation project that saw Field Turf synthetic replace the natural grass football field and a rubberized, all-weather surface installed over the dirt running oval, which was subsequently named the ‘Carl Lewis Lewis Track’ in honor of the 10-time Olympic track and field medalist, then a Palisades Highlands resident. During a ceremony prior to opening kickoff, Jeffers thanked the numerous individuals and organizations involved in the project, including the Pacific Palisades Optimist Club, American Legion 283, The Lions Club, Masonic Lodge 780, the Kanoff Family Foundation, AYSO Region 69 and Bill and Cindy Simon. Then Lewis stepped to the podium to address his Palisades neighbors. “I’m excited to be here tonight and all of us should be very proud to have one of the best tracks and stadiums in the world,” he said. “I hope to see you all out here.” With that, Carl Lewis Foundation Director Kym Begel, a former Olympic heptathlete, fired the starting gun and Lewis jogged a ceremonial first lap around the track, which would not be officially completed until winter when the blue ‘top’ surface ordered from Germany arrived. Also on hand was Skylar Little Meinhardt, who grew up in Pacific Palisades and went on to play collegiate and pro soccer. She was there to promote the Pali Blues, a women’s professional team that debuted at the stadium the following spring. No one, however, was more relieved to see the field done than then head football coach Kelly Loftus, whose team got to host a game for the first time all season. “This is a beautiful field, it really came out nice,” he said. “It’s nice to not be nomads anymore and actually have a place to call home.” Construction had begun after graduation in June. Jeffers was named the Palisadian-Post’s 2007 Citizen of the Year.
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