High school lands new football field by bartering with Disney

After playing on a rundown surface for years, Hollywood (Calif.) High will play on a new, immaculate grass field for the first time on Friday. It turns out to get it, the school just needed to ask Mickey Mouse for one.

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Naturally, that's not quite the whole story. Rather, as Eric Sondheimer reported in the Los Angeles Times, Hollywood High was playing on a rundown field, and Disney needed a large outdoor facility near its movie studios to use for a big "Toy Story 3" event over the summer. Hollywood High offered its field, with the stipulation that Disney replace the turf afterwards. The movie studio was all too happy to oblige, installing top-of-the-line turf after the event wrapped up.

To accommodate the installation of the new turf -- and Disney's needs for the prior surface -- Hollywood High had to play its first five games away from home and practice at a nearby park.

"We practiced on about 20-yards wide and about 40-yards length all summer long so we could get all this green after they came off the field," Hollywood coach Ceasar Sandoval told the Times. "So they paid for it.

"It lets them know that there's athletics teams here now. Football is taken seriously, baseball ... it's good for the kids and the entire athletic program. It's good for the school."

A private movie studio might seem like a strange partner for a high school athletic department, but Hollywood High's unique location has set the stage for the Sheiks to exchange services for contributions in the past, too. Most recently, Hollywood High cheerleaders appeared at the unveiling of Judge Wapner's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in November 2009.

The give and take between Hollywood High and Disney is all part of establishing a true athletic presence in the midst of Tinseltown chic at Hollywood High, a quest that Sandoval seems to be achieving rapidly. Now in his third season as coach of the Sheiks, Sandoval has led Hollywood to a 5-0 start, with the team's first game on its home turf scheduled for Friday night against visiting Santee (Calif.) High.

Considering the fact that Hollywood was just 4-6 the year before Sandoval took charge -- the Sheiks have been 5-5 and 7-3 in their two seasons under Sandoval -- you might even say he's writing a Hollywood story of his own. At least Sandoval knows he won't have to travel far to pitch any movie ideas inspired by his team's exploits.

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