Like many in the US, members of the Santa Rosa RFC have long dreamt of the day when the club would have a field to call its own. Then a former rugger and local entrepreneur, Peter Eiermann, placed the club in position to act on that dream.
Pete began playing rugby in Chico, CA, in 1970 and then moved down to San Francisco where he propped for the BATS. He settled in Santa Rosas in the mid 70s and began a long relationship with the Santa Rosa RFC.
Pete became involved in redevelopment projects that included the transformation of an old tire warehouse and flour mill, into a successful restaurant and microbrewery. He was also active in numerous community service projects, serving as Chair for the Santa Rosa Cultural Heritage Board and President of the Railroad Square Association, to name a few.
Pete and his rugby teammates developed their field dream into plans and spoke passionately to all who would listen about the possibility of creating a permanent home for rugby and youth soccer in Santa Rosa.
But Pete passed away unexpectedly in 1997, leaving a wife, two sons and his rugby dream unfulfilled.
Two months after his death, however, the Santa Rosa Cultural Heritage Board recommended that a park be named in Pete’s honor to acknowledge his many contributions to the community. To honor his spirit, vision and contributions, the Peter N. Eiermann Memorial Fund was started by his widow Ann Marie Ginella, Dave Ellis and Scott Paulson.
The Memorial Fund collected money, goods and services. The first significant donation, $10,000, came from Willie Moore, a BATS’ teammate of Pete’s, who hoped to see it used for the development of youth and grass roots rugby. This early donation helped fill the sails of those who would step in to run the show.
The project really started to take shape in 2000 and construction finally began in 2002. Plans were produced and land was set aside at Northwest Community Park. The Santa Rosa RFC secured a 49-year lease guaranteeing up to 75% of the Park’s use.
$180,000 was eventually raised and over $650,000 in value was added to the Park. The biggest chunk went into the sub-surface drainage system, making it an all weather field. Cy Penry served as Project Manager through every phase of the construction, coordinating over 6,000 hours of volunteer time, and working closely with the City of Santa Rosa’s Parks Department.
Just prior to dedication, 75 redwood trees, which should be nearly 1,000 feet tall in 20 years, were planted along the field’s southern edge. Massive goalposts reach to the sky and the gravel parking lot to the east may one day be the site of a clubhouse.
At noon on Dedication Day, more than 500 people gathered under the West goalposts for the formal dedication. National HS Championship finalist Elsie Allen played an exhibition match and the Santa Rosa Faded Roses played host to the California Bald Eagles.
The future for youth and club rugby in Santa Rosa is bright and secure due to the vision and follow through of so many.