If Earthquakes soccer club lands in South County, that’s a score

It’s looking pretty likely that the San Jose Earthquakes will
make South County the new home for their training facility.
It’s looking pretty likely that the San Jose Earthquakes will make South County the new home for their training facility.

And that’s a good thing for the region as a whole. Especially in these tough economic times, bringing a new business to the area, with more than 50 employees who will spend money at local shops, restaurants and businesses throughout the area, is big win.

The professional soccer team – one of just 16 in the United States – is seeking permits to turn the former Golden Oak Restaurant on Condit Road into its training facility. In addition, if negotiations are successful, the team would run the Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center just across the street.

However, one group is watching the Earthquake developments with a wary eye: The Orchard Valley Youth Soccer League. If the Earthquakes make Morgan Hill their training center, they’ll become OVYSL’s landlord at the sports center.

“I’m hoping they keep it the same; keep it open to the youth and local community,” OVYSL 2nd Vice President Ricardo Martinez said recently.

Jack Salvemini, OVYSL president, echoed Martinez’s concerns: “Our biggest concern is they don’t know the financial part: What it costs us to rent (the fields), those rates are affordable. … I just hope when they negotiate rates, they think of us. The sports center was built for the residents.”

That’s a laudable goal, and hopefully there’s no cause for worry. More than anyone, the Earthquakes should value and support youth soccer. That means that they should give OVYSL, which serves 1,400 area youth, reasonable rent and access to the fields.

The Morgan Hill City Council should keep the community, including OVYSL, in mind as it negotiates with the Earthquakes. The community paid for the sports center with its taxes, and community access at reasonable rates and at reasonable times must be preserved.

That said, there’s no reason why the Earthquakes’ move to Morgan Hill can’t be a model for public-private partnerships. Everything in the region will benefit – from the hotels in Gilroy to the outlets to gas stations.

Bring on the Quakes, keep fees for youth sports reasonable and bang one in to the corner of the economic net for the entire South County.

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