A youth soccer league claims the city of Santa Clara is illegally allowing the NFL to use fields next to Levi's Stadium, which is hosting Super Bowl 50 next month. On Monday, crews begin transforming the fields into the NFL media camp for the biggest event in American sports, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.
On Tuesday a judge denied the soccer league's request for a temporary restraining order. So at least for now, the National Football League is removing sprinkler heads and installing temporary flooring ahead of the big game.
Hundreds of kids play soccer on the pristine turf every week.
The NFL and the city of Santa Clara say the league was granted permission to use the fields in 2013 as part of an agreement made during the Super Bowl bidding process. The city owns the fields, but the soccer league that uses them claims it only learned about the NFL's full plans two weeks ago. The soccer fields will be closed until March and the league is now scrambling to find replacement fields.
"To kind of just bulldoze over the kids to hand over the park to the NFL and not be accountable to making sure the kids have a place to play -- that's outrageous," Santa Clara Youth Soccer League board member Gabe Foo said.
Foo is concerned the NFL will damage the fields.
"We have yet to see anything on paper from the NFL or the city that proves that they're going to return it in the same condition," he explained.
Sophia Mendoza hopes to play soccer in college. She said closing the complex could hurt her chances of being recruited.
"It's way easier to play and show off and showcase yourself on a good field than it is on a high school field or just a park with some grass," Mendoza said. "Without those fields, then we don't get the same exposure."
The NFL says it'll minimize any impact on the fields and is installing plastic flooring to protect the grass. A spokesman also said "the NFL and 49ers have already committed to replace at no cost to the City of Santa Clara the two natural grass fields."
"These professional athletes coming for the Super Bowl, they have their careers built, they have their whole lives already set... We're just getting started. We're young athletes trying to build our careers," Mendoza said.
The NFL and the soccer league will face off in court on January 11. The soccer league is asking for a commitment from Santa Clara to ensure the soccer teams will have a place to play.