- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - A judge on Tuesday ruled against a San Francisco Bay Area soccer league that sued to stop the National Football League from taking over fields next to the stadium where the Super Bowl will be held next month.

The Santa Clara Youth Soccer League asked a judge to grant an injunction to remove the NFL from the 11-acre park that will be used as a Super Bowl 50 media center, saying they fear permanent damage to the fields.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Joseph Huber ruled Tuesday the NFL can keep control of Santa Clara’s Youth Soccer Park, which it has been using since Jan. 4, until 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.

The youth soccer league, which includes 1,500 local players, argued in its lawsuit that the city failed to follow a process - including holding a public hearing - for changing the soccer park’s conditional-use permit to allow for a usage other than youth soccer.



In the city’s rebuttal papers from last week, Santa Clara City Attorney Ren Nosky argued the city has the power to control, govern and supervise the use of its recreation areas and that the agreement with the NFL to use the soccer park was a “contractual obligation” stemming from the city’s 2013 bid to host the Super Bowl - and not subject to a public hearing.

The youth soccer league’s attorney, Gautam Dutta, said the lawsuit will continue until the City of Santa Clara and the NFL find and pay for all replacement fields the 1,500 local players can use.

“We’re going to continue the lawsuit until replacement fields are found for our kids and until we get justice,” Dutta said.

Meanwhile, the San Jose Earthquakes on Monday pledged to open two fields at Avaya Stadium to the local soccer players displaced by the Super Bowl.

“That’s a generous gesture. The problem is on the details,” Dutta said. “All of our games are played on the weekends and we don’t have information on when the fields will be made available.”

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