City and Sharks eye rec skating rink

Gilroy Sports Park could soon be home to a skating rink.

Gilroy City Council this week inked a one-year exclusivity agreement with Sharks Sports Entertainment LLC, as a first step toward building a recreational ice skating facility in the city.

The rink would be built at the Gilroy Sports Park at the city’s southern boundary, and operated by Sharks Sports.

Sharks Sports Entertainment is separate from the Sharks hockey team, but they fall under the same parent company.

The deal approved May 6 represents the latest effort to bring business to the sports park, as a way to promote tourism. Jon Gustafson, vice president for Sharks Sports Entertainment, is a former Gilroy resident and said the project has the potential to be a major economic opportunity for the city.

An exclusivity agreement is non-binding and does not mean the public ice rink is a go, city officials cautioned, but instead represents the beginning of negotiations. Should the rink be built, it would not play host to San Jose Sharks games.

“Having the proposed facility operated by a national brand with a proven track record of operating recreational ice facilities would be a great opportunity for economic development and has the potential to heighten our position in the region as a destination location and increase travel and tourism to Gilroy,” read the council staff report.

Sharks Sports has recreational ice facilities in San Jose, Fremont and Oakland, Gustafson said. If Sharks Entertainment were to open an ice rink in the South County it would be the first public ice skating rink in the South Valley region.

At the May 6 council meeting, city administrator Gabe Gonzalez told the council the ice rinks that Sharks Entertainment operates are owned by each city and managed by Sharks Entertainment.

“Apparently, they’ve done a market study that proves to them that they have a significant amount of players down in this region,” Gonzalez told the council, adding that the project would make the city a “destination point.”

Gustafson told the Dispatch that the possibility of opening a facility in Gilroy has been a topic of conversation for several years, but that the city was the first to reach out to Sharks Entertainment ahead of the exclusivity agreement.

Gustafson said the Gilroy agreement is “us getting together and reviewing a potential project and really seeing if it’s feasible.”

Gonzalez said a timeline would be established after an initial meeting with Sharks Entertainment.

Mayor Roland Velasco told the council, “This is the first step of many steps that the council will have some feedback on.”

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