Burton Pumas finally get a playing field of their own

After more than four years of playing on the road, the Burton Pumas are finally coming home.

Friday morning marked the ceremonial unveiling of Rosenberg Stadium, Burton High School’s new turf field football and soccer facility. The $1.6 million project was funded entirely by private donations, and was named after San Francisco philanthropist Claude Rosenberg, who made the lead donation for the project.

Burton football team will play on the new field for the first time today at 2 p.m. against Balboa in its homecoming game, the first true home contest in the five-year history of the program.

Previously, Burton was practicing on the school’s softball field in the Portola district and playing its home games at the School of the Arts near Twin Peaks.

“To me, it seems like we’re about to play in the Super Bowl,” Burton wide receiver-defensive back Tyre’ Ellison said. “There’s going to be a lot of people out here watching us. I can’t wait.”

The facility, which will also include the nearly completed Koret Track, features one of the most spectacular views of any sporting venue in The City, and the downtown skyscrapers shimmered in the sun Friday as Rosenberg cut the ceremonial ribbon.

It is the only football field in southeast San Francisco, and it will be made available to the public during nonschool hours.

“I can’t overstate the importance of [the new field],” Academic Athletic Association Commissioner Don Collins said. “It gives this side of town a great facility to use and be proud of. We want people on all sides of town to have something like this, and this is a major step.”

Burton football coach Duane Breaux has coached the Pumas since the inception of the program, and said the project has been discussed since the summer of 2002. Now, he says, Burton will make its home debut with the best team it has ever had. The Pumas have already won two games in AAA play during the same season for the first time, and the game against Balboa (2-4, 2-1) has playoff implications.

“[Today] is going to be really special, and the kids are so excited,” Breaux said. “The last game that was played here was in 1993, when Burton was called Wilson and Wilson won Turkey Day. Hopefully they left us a little bit of magic.”

melliser@examiner.com

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