LeFebvre Stadium turns 50 this week
AUBURN– As Placer High football fans fill into LeFebvre Stadium this Friday for the opening Hillmen playoff game, Hillmen faithful should take time to toast a time some 50 years ago when a community came together with a school to make the dream of an on-campus field a reality.
At the time, in 1968, the front page of the Nov. 7 Auburn Journal was filled with area voting results of newly elected supervisors, assemblymen and state senators of the era.
In another short sad story that were common in the times, there was also a report about a former Del Oro High student losing his life in Vietnam. Also on the front page, Auburn police were on the lookout for an unknown gunman who shot out 11 street lights on Lincoln Way.
But the big news of that week was Placer High School getting ready to dedicate Hillmen Stadium, now known affectionately as LeFebvre Stadium, which this week turns 50 years old.
Tuning back the clock, former Placer High running back Alan Myers, a 1969 Hillmen graduate, remembers back to that 1968 season.
“I’m remembering as a junior the year before that we didn’t play a home game,” said Myers. “All of our games were on the road. We even had our homecoming game that year at Roseville.”
Just before the start of the ’67 season, the CIF and the State Fair board association had visited Placer’s home field, McCann Stadium at the fairgrounds, and had ruled the playing field unsafe for athletic play due to glass, metal and bolts which had been accumulated from one too many destruction derbies at the facility.
Placer High’s football teams had been using the fairgrounds as a home field since 1939. At the time, Placer High and Placer College officials signed an agreement with the fair board for the use of the field in the horse arena for sporting events which was supposed to be “temporary” until the school could provide its own facilities.
Now, some 30 years later in 1968, while there was a track around a practice field at Placer, there was no suitable bleachers or lights to host varsity or junior varsity games. However, at that time, with the Hillmen facing the prospect of possibly another “homeless season”, the wheels went into motion for a on-campus stadium to become a reality.
According to The Journal, a nucleus of about 10 local businessmen took the problem to a mass meeting of parents and students with an initial estimate that $10,00 to $15,000 could provide lights for the field. Bill Moore, president of the Placer High Parents’ Club, termed the response: “It was tremendous, there was no generation gap.”
The drive for the new stadium really took off in November of 1967 when the Parent’s Club selected Joe Chevreaux to head a steering committee for the project. At the time, all kinds of fundraising from rummage sales to car washes to pot luck dinners were being held. By the end of the school year in June of ’68, the fund had passed the $27,000 mark.
All total, 200 different groups, service clubs, businesses and individual contributions in the hundreds continued to grow the fund. Finally, on a $10,000 donation from the estate of the Beecher Family, the contributions grew to $39,000, more than enough to cover the cost of bleachers and to provide lighting.
The estimated value of volunteer planning, labor and materials contributed were figured in at $60,000 making the total project cash value to the district at just under $100,000.
After playing its first three games of the 1968 season on the road, Placer returned home for its first home game, an afternoon contest in the new stadium with Christian Brothers. A second afternoon game the following week with Sonoma was hastily changed to a night game on Saturday, the first under the new lights.
Despite a valiant game by the Hillmen, the visitors squeaked out a 14-7 win. But despite having a dismal season that year – Placer went 1-8-1 – the Hillmen dedicated their new stadium with 2,500 fans looking on for a season-ending homecoming game against Roseville.
“We had a tough year but getting to play at home under the lights was big for us,” said Myers, who rushed for 900 yards that season and was the Placer team MVP. “Our big game back then was with Yuba City, so here 50 years later the Hillmen might get a chance with Yuba City again. That would be great.”