By Liliana Marquez
For more than 60 years, Weingart Stadium has been a setting for history, from the Olympics to Forrest Gump. Commonly known as “the football stadium” or simply “the stadium,” Weingart Stadium was built in 1951, six years after East Los Angeles College was established. With a seating capacity of 22,355 and a construction cost of $3.1 million, Weingart Stadium has hosted a variety of events.
Formerly known as ELAC Stadium, the facility was proposed to be a site for the 1984 Olympic Games, but the stadium needed renovations in order to host it. The costs of the renovations were estimated to be around $3.2 million. The Olympic Games Committee decided to ask for donations to complete the work in time for the games.
After the renovations in 1984, ELAC Stadium was renamed after philanthropist Ben Weingart, whose foundation funded renovations. In 1984, Weingart Stadium hosted the field hockey competition of the Olympic Games. In 1990, the United States Field Hockey organized an international tournament that took place at the stadium.
One of the reasons why the stadium is famous is because the stadium has hosted the East L.A. Classic, an annual football game between rivals James A. Garfield and Theodore Roosevelt High Schools, except for a short stint where the game was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The East L.A. Classic has been able to attract a crowd of more than 20,000 spectators per game, making it one of the sporting events with the greatest amount of people at Weingart stadium.
The site, home of ELAC’s football team, men’s and women’s soccer teams, has also hosted track and field competitions as well as graduation ceremonies by different high schools around the area.
Weingart Stadium also appeared in the 1994 Academy Award winning film “Forrest Gump”. Director Robert Zemeckis, along with his crew, used extras and props to transform Weingart Stadium into the University of Alabama’s Football Stadium. During the scene, the viewer can see Forrest Gump, portrayed by Tom Hanks, running touchdowns from one side of the field to the other and bumping into the marching band.
More than a decade later, British Director Danny Cannon filmed a scene from the movie, “Goal! The Dream Begins.” During the scene, the viewer can appreciate the stadium when Mexican actor Kuno Becker, who portrays Santiago Muñez, participates in a soccer game while a British recruiter along with other spectators watch him and his team’s performance from the stands.
The stadium has a certified turf-playing surface by the Federation Internationale de Football Association.
The stadium features an eight-lane 400-meter track surrounding the field.
It is also equipped with a with a big-screen scoreboard that features up to a seven-camera views, making it the only stadium with this technology in all of the California Community Colleges.
Weingart Stadium was also a proposed site for the city of Los Angeles’s bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, which went to London.