Football forced to punt home games, administration cites shoddy turf

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By Jair Ramirez

The Riverside City College football team will not be playing home games at Wheelock Field this season due to safety concerns.

The Tigers last played at Wheelock Field in November 2021 during playoffs when the team decided to stop using the field.

RCC will be playing their 2022 regular season home games at Ramona High School’s stadium in Riverside, CA.

Playoff games would be hosted at a college facility.

According to RCC Athletics Director Payton Williams, an outside vendor conducted a review of the field early in the fall last year.

“They ran various tests and provided the results to the college,” Williams said. “Based on those results, college leadership decided to halt football competition at the field.”

 Teams and scheduled classes can still use the field and track, so long as they are used safely.

A Field and Track Renovation Committee consisting of key college stakeholders was formed at RCC during 2021-2022 to discuss and establish the best course of action to repair the field and track, according to Williams.

The project is being handled with leadership from the District, college and athletic department.

The intent of the District and college is to play football games back in Wheelock Field by the 2023 season.

As for practice, the team will still get dressed at Wheelock Field’s locker room while practicing on the grass field next to the parking structure along Terracina Drive. Ramona High’s locker room would be used for home games.

RCC will be playing San Diego Mesa College in an exhibition game on Aug. 26 and will open the season against Mt. San Jacinto College on Sept. 3.

Both games will be at Ramona High School’s stadium.

This issue was first discovered last year during playoffs when they were meant to host a game but could not due to the decision not to use the field.

Ramona’s stadium is large enough to fit the crowd that the Tigers bring in being that it holds 5,500 people.

“Not playing at home will definitely be different,” said Tigers Quarterback Jake Retzlaff. “But one thing that we preach as a team is that we will play any team, any time, anywhere.”

The Tigers are still able to use their facilities to train. However the field conditions were deemed “too unsafe” to hold a game on.

“The mindset is what allows us to be successful on the road,” said Retzlaff. “It will be the key to our success as a team, especially this year.”

The Tigers will open their season with a three game home stand then on the road for the next two games. The Tigers will start conference play on Oct 15 when they play Palomar College on the road. The last four games are all conference matchups for RCC.

The district approved purchasing agreements and other formal purchasing options for the track and field at the Board of Trustees meeting Aug. 16, according to the district’s agenda packet. The approval includes the purchase of installation, maintenance, repair and warranty of natural and synthetic surfaces for Wheelock Stadium. 

This story is developing.

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