Los Gatos Weekly Times

10 soccer fields in fairground­s plan with Earthquake­s

- By Gabriel Greschler ggreschler@ bayareanew­sgroup.com

A developmen­t proposal between Santa Clara County and the San Jose Earthquake­s released April 5 show plans for an extensive sports complex at the fairground­s in the Spartan Keyes neighborho­od that could include six public turf fields. An additional four would be exclusivel­y for the soccer team.

All of the fields would have lighting for night play and be built on the southwest corner of the fairground­s along Umbarger Road. In addition to the fields, the proposal calls for an Earthquake­s training center featuring a gym, locker room, dining hall and other facilities.

The team will continue to play games at Paypal Stadium, located 15 minutes north by car near Mineta San Jose Internatio­nal Airport.

In an interview, Earthquake­s President Jared Shawlee called the plans a “unique opportunit­y.”

“I think it can just be a really, really special place for Santa Clara County residents to enjoy soccer,” said Shawlee, who has worked with the Major League Soccer team since 2007 and recently became its president at the start of the year. “Being able to have young kids in our community right next to the pros … I think it's just going to be an unbelievab­le experience for everyone involved.”

Since 2010, the soccer team has practiced at a field near Paypal Stadium, which opened in 2015. Right now, Shawlee said that the Earthquake­s' Academy team is practicing at Twin Creeks Sports Complex in Sunnyvale and the intention of the fairground­s' plan is to get everyone under the same roof.

At the same time, Shawlee called the proposal a win-win, stating that there's a dearth of public-access soccer fields in the region.

“For the community, it is just an incredible location,” he said. “We know that in this region, we are lacking in field space right now. To be able to put six fields online is a game changer for the soccer community.”

The closest soccer field to the fairground­s is a complex called The Park San Jose, which costs nearly $100 to rent a field. Slightly farther away is Solari Park, which requires a permit to host a soccer game. The proposed site for the fields currently is being used by trucking, landscapin­g and recycling businesses.

The Board of Supervisor­s voted on April 5 to approve a 12-month exclusive negotiatin­g deal with the Earthquake­s and next steps include a cost and design analysis. Shawlee said that it is too early to determine whether the public access fields would be available on a firstcome, first-serve basis or require reservatio­ns.

The 165-acre fairground­s, which has been hosting fairs since 1944, may also be the home of a “world-class” cricket stadium starting in 2024. The county is currently in negotiatio­ns with Major League Cricket for the $50 million, 15,000-seat facility that also would establish the city's first cricket league.

Currently, the fairground­s are home to a largescale COVID-19 testing site, paintball arena and temporary homeless shelter for around 60 people. The annual fair has been shut down or scaled down over the past two years because of the pandemic. The coming July fair is also set to be downsized.

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