Photo by Sarah Bennett 

For residents of Central Long Beach, the Dust Bowl was more than just a 19th Century agricultural period. Over the last few decades, it’s been a term used to refer to the Los Angeles County-owned stormwater retention basin off Pacific Coast Highway that at one time was developed with baseball and soccer fields.

As one of the few park spaces in the area, 19-acre Chittick Field (also known as Hamilton Bowl) continued to be used throughout the years, despite its grass becoming dirt and its fields rendered all but useless for any league play. In 2010, ambitious plans for a $140M Kroc Community Center on the site fell through due to lack of funding, leaving the future of The Dust Bowl in limbo.

That is, until a conglomeration of funds from City, County and private sources came together last year to fully fund a $9.9M renovation, which was revealed last week during a joyous ceremony at which the mayor, councilmember, former NFL players and local musicians spoke of the space’s bright future in a green-starved community.

“With all the active and young people living within one mile of Chittick Field, I know that it will be one of the most utilized parks in Long Beach,” 6th District Councilmember Dee Andrews said. “I share the community’s excitement and enthusiasm to start playing football, soccer and a wide variety of athletics here at this incredible facility.”

chittickfield2Touted as one of the most significant park renovations in recent city history, the year-long revitalization of Chittick Field included the construction of a football field, a 400-meter all-weather track, three soccer fields as well as the installtion of new restrooms, a bleacher area, sports lighting, irrigation and a 134-space parking lot. Money came from the Los Angeles County Park and Open Space District, City of Long Beach Infrastructure funds, Open Space Bonds and a $1M donation from Occidental Petroleum Corporation.

The first 99-year lease in L.A. County history was also signed, ensuring Chittick Field will remain a recreational space into the next century. 

Chittick Field remains an active stormwater management facility and the renovation included many upgrades to the bowl’s grading and low-flow drainage system. As a flood control retention basin, it may still be closed during rainy weather. All other times, facilities will be available by reservation or for unscheduled purposes as long as no reserved activities are happening. 

Chittick Field is located at 1900 Walnut Ave. To make a reservation, call (562) 570-3204.

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