Judge Rules for NFL, Denies Santa Clara Youth Soccer League's Request for Field Injunction

A California judge has denied a youth soccer league's request to keep the NFL from using its soccer fields during Super Bowl 50.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Joseph Huber issued the ruling Tuesday evening.

The Santa Clara Youth Soccer League filed a lawsuit in an effort to block the NFL's plans for soccer fields near Levi's Stadium ahead of the Feb. 7 Super Bowl seeking an injunction to the media village being erected on what has been their soccer field. The league feared the city and NFL would not make good on a promise to find fields where youth soccer teams could play while theirs are used in the lead-up to the Big Game.

But NFL attorneys had argued that the field is the best location for media — and more importantly, security headquarters — and making other plans would jeopardize Super Bowl security.

Huber sided with that argument, ruling that the "harm the city faces is clear and certain." He ruled the NFL can keep control of Santa Clara's Youth Soccer Park from Jan. 4 to March 2.

"While the court understands and regrets the disruption that youth soccer players have already suffered, it expects that the city and the NFL will do their utmost to minimize any further issues and ensure the prompt return of the fields in good condition," Huber wrote in his decision to deny the injunction.

At the same time, Huber disagreed with the soccer league's argument that the city's zoning laws only allow the field to be used for youth soccer. He ruled that "none of the documents that have been submitted" established that the park's conditional use permit allows only for soccer.

He also ruled against the soccer league's assertion that "due process" wasn't served. That is a term, the judge said, that only applies to someone's "liberty or property interest."

The judge took aim at the soccer league's complaints that moving to another field would interfere with the children's competitive prospects and their chance to play at the college level.

"As understandable as those fears may be, the record does not prove that they will materialize," the judge wrote, citing only one disruption to a scheduled game.

The youth soccer league expressed bittersweet emotions after Huber announced his decision.

"While we are disappointed with the court's ruling, we are encouraged that everyone has come to the table since we went to court," Tino Silva, president of the soccer league, said in a statement.

Silva said the soccer league would continue to search for more fields to host more than 200 games this spring.

The San Jose Earthquakes have offered the young soccer players two fields at Avaya Stadium while they are displaced during the Super Bowl. And the city of Santa Clara also has secured alternative soccer fields at the Twin Creeks Sports Complex for the 1,500 youngsters to play.

Meanwhile, Gautum Dutta, the lawyer for the youth soccer league, remained on the fence about those options. And he said while the Earthquakes' offer is generous, Dutta was skeptical about the schedule fitting the young players' needs.

The Associated Press and NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro contributed to this report.

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