City officials report that negotiations with Sharks Sports Entertainment to construct an ice rink facility at the Gilroy Sports Park are picking up steam, with more concrete details expected to be unveiled later this year.
The Gilroy City Council entered into an exclusivity agreement with Sharks Sports in 2019, and the agreement has been renewed yearly since then, as Covid-19 stalled negotiations.
The city and Sharks envision a 100,000-square-foot facility located at the Sports Park at 5925 Monterey Frontage Road that would house two ice rinks with amenities such as a restaurant. Rough estimates of the cost of the facility is $40 million, according to Mayor Marie Blankley, who is part of a council ad hoc committee negotiating with the Sharks.
The Sharks, meanwhile, are offering about 20,000 square feet of that facility for the city to decide how it wants to use it, possibly for an indoor pool, gym or other fitness-related uses. Such decisions on the additional amenities would be presented over various public meetings to gather feedback, Blankley said, possibly in the next few months.
That could add about $20 million to the costs of construction, according to Blankley.
The city would lease the park space to the Sharks, while the Sharks would build the facility with funds provided from a bond acquired by the city, she said. The lease agreement would establish how much money comes back to the city to meet the bond obligation.
The city has hired a consultant to determine how much money Gilroy could expect per month, and compare it to the monthly bond obligation, Blankley said.
“Any shortfall is what we want the public to be aware of and weigh in on, particularly if the public wants the $20 million of amenities that are for the city’s use,” she said.
The proposed site for the project is currently agricultural land. To mitigate the loss of farmable land, the council in January 2020 agreed to a $1.3 million easement to protect 108 acres of farmland at 7665 Crews Road, also known as Van Dyke Ranch.
The Gilroy Sports Park and the Sharks facility are part of the focus of the Gilroy Economic Development Partnership, a group that consists of various city officials and representatives from local organizations. The group, formed in early 2020, has tasked itself with identifying ways to grow the city’s assets and elevate its status as a recreation destination.
In addition to the Sharks, the group is focusing on the 536 acres at Gilroy Gardens and downtown’s Gourmet Alley.
Blankley said the position of the Sports Park near Highway 101 makes it an ideal location for visitors from the tri-county area and beyond to stop in Gilroy.
“This is a game-changer for Gilroy if we can make this happen,” she said.