Long Beach City College is preparing to open a world-class set of aquatic and athletic facilities in early 2022, the result of five years of planning, designing, and dreaming. The upgrade was made possible by the passage of Measure LB in 2015, giving the college nearly a billion dollars in construction money from a bond issue. With more $100 million of that earmarked for athletic facilities, LBCC is poised to significantly alter the landscape of sports in the city, with new facilities not available at many NCAA Division 1 schools.
The scope of the project is in large part the result of hard work over the last half-decade from former LBCC athletic director and current LBCC Dean of Kinesiology and Athletics Randy Totorp. A graduate of Lakewood High and LBCC, Totorp won a state title as a volleyball player at LBCC and several more as a coach. His love for the college was evident during a recent private tour of the new facilities, which had tour-goers gaping in wonder.
“Why not?” he asked. “Why not do it at this level, and build something really special? The vision here was above and beyond what you’d expect at a community college, the vision here was Division 1, a really top-level experience for our athletes and students.”
The new facilities have been dubbed Phase 1, and feature $70 million in upgrades. The crown jewel of the new facilities opening early this year is the brand new LBCC aquatic center. The pool is 65 meters long and holds 1.1 million gallons of water, taking three days to fill. The outdoor pool features a movable bulkhead and several other amenities including covered seating and a massive video-enabled scoreboard. The depth runs from eight feet to twelve at its deepest point to allow for springboard diving.
With groundbreaking on the new Belmont Pool in Long Beach still a year away, the LBCC facility will be the premier pool in the city for years to come. Inside the aquatic center is a new training facility for physical therapy and exercise. The pool also has a massive new event space attached to it that will make the new LBCC facility an easy pitch for hosting larger meets and events.
“This project originally started out as an aquatic facility, and we worked really hard with the administration to talk about the surrounding space and programming,” said Totorp.
In addition to the pool, the school also has two brand-new soccer fields, an NCAA-level beach volleyball facility, new tennis courts, and they’ve also renovated the softball field.
The expanse of grass that ran along Carson on the west end of the campus is now a pair of FIFA/NCAA-regulation turf soccer fields, with a massive video scoreboard and the ability to host 160 community/club events annually. The new facility will be the home field for the school’s men’s and women’s soccer teams, but Totorp expects to see major usage from the community as well, and had the secondary field lined with lacrosse lines in addition to soccer boundaries.
Anyone who’s seen the old grass fields that were filled with divots and had a scoreboard that often didn’t work knows how big of an upgrade the new facility is.
“Quite frankly our old fields and spaces didn’t deliver a great experience for our teams,” said Totorp. “These are places they can train and have that vision of themselves at the next level.”
The upgrade closest to Totorp’s heart is the new beach volleyball court, which is significantly nicer than what NCAA champion USC or most other Division 1 programs have on their campus. The facility features five courts with stands and shade structures, with top-quality sand and drainage as well as a camera on each court. Those cameras are wired into the new large video scoreboard, which can show live video from each court as well as scores.
“I’m a volleyball guy first and foremost and this is really a world-class facility, this will be a much better viewing experience for anyone coming to watch a college beach volleyball match than you’re going to find anywhere else in Southern California,” said Totorp. “We really designed this from the ground up because there aren’t a lot of other examples of facilities like this.”
The college also resurfaced its tennis courts, and made some upgrades to the softball field including a new scoreboard.
The new facilities will be used by the eight LBCC sports teams that will call them home, as well as kinesiology classes and outside community/club teams. Totorp said the next phase of construction will be major upgrades to Veterans Memorial Stadium, with a planned third phase to include renovation to the Hall of Champions gymnasium as well as the school’s volleyball gym.
The new facilities are a huge win for LBCC and the city as a whole, but also on a personal level for Totorp.
“As a coach you have a direct impact on lives, and it was hard for me to leave that for administration,” he said. “A project like this is how you do it–create something amazing for generations of kids in our city. I’m really excited we could do this with the community support and the bond. This is going to have a 50 to 100 year impact on this community that we all love.”