OCEANSIDE — City Council voted to rename the Oceanside Pier Amphitheater and Oceanside Beach Community Center after the late town local and football legend Junior Seau.
Those who knew Seau professionally and personally remember his upbeat attitude, his love of football, and his kindness and generosity toward others.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said that renaming the amphitheater after Seau gives the community a way to heal and honor his memory.
“You can’t say Oceanside without saying Junior Seau, and you can’t say Junior Seau without saying Oceanside,” Sanchez said.
Mayor Jim Wood said residents have suggested renaming different city streets and landmarks to honor Seau.
Seau’s family said they favored the idea of renaming the amphitheater.
“I’m overwhelmed and honored the city would even think of doing this,” Annette Seau-Soto, Junior Seau’s sister, said.
The amphitheater is located a few blocks from Seau’s home on The Strand. Seau’s sister said he would meet up with local youth at the amphitheater on weekends to run recreational fitness drills. Seau also surfed in the area.
Another connection is that Seau is a part of the Samoan community that holds the annual weeklong Samoan festival at the amphitheater.
The decision to rename the amphitheater after Seau came in a 3-2 vote May 16. While none of the council members disputed Seau’s legacy and valuable contributions to the community, Councilmen Jerry Kern and Gary Felien voted no.
They stated that the city might be able to secure money from sponsors to rebuild the amphitheater if they included the amphitheater naming rights.
Kern said his comments sounded unkind, but stuck to his push to gain private sponsors’ redevelopment money.
“There might be problems for us down the road,” Kern said. “Someone might want to share the name or take the name off.”
City Manager Peter Weiss said a sponsor to redevelop the amphitheater is unlikely to step forward until more downtown redevelopment is completed in two years.
Others added that many sponsors would like to have their name listed with Seau’s on the amphitheater.
The final vote OK’d the amphitheater, community center at the foot of the pier and adjacent plaza area to be renamed after Seau.
A dedication ceremony will be held July 7 as part of the annual Samoan Cultural Celebration that is held at the amphitheater.