SPORTS: Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park at risk of being closed during Levi’s stadium events

There has been recent uproar about Vice Mayor Suds Jain’s new proposal to use the city-owned parking lot of Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park as a VIP parking lot during events at Levi’s stadium. Although it is an opportunity of revenue for the city, the proposal will impose on youth soccer players and should not be passed.

Located next to Levi’s Stadium, the Youth Soccer Park is one of only two public soccer parks in Santa Clara. It is constantly in use between practices and games. An article by LPA states there are about 3,000 kids enrolled in a soccer group or league in Santa Clara, and many of these players and teams have played games at the Youth Soccer Park for years. If the proposal is passed, the park will have to be closed on event days. As a result, the numerous teams that use the Youth Soccer Park will not be able to play there. They will be forced to either find another place to play in an already limited set of available fields, or cancel games altogether.

Since Levi’s Stadium was built right next to the Youth Soccer Park, this is not the first time the topic of using the fields for events has been brought up. The San Jose Spotlight reported that back in 2015, the 49ers tried to purchase the park and planned to turn it into a VIP parking lot. The Santa Clara Youth Soccer League took this conflict to court and won the battle.

San Jose Spotlight also reported later that year the league filed a lawsuit to prevent the city from turning the park into media headquarters for Super Bowl 50, but the lawsuit was unsuccessful. The fields were torn up and used as a media center. The fields were replaced after the Super Bowl, but tension and conflict have been back and forth since. San Jose Spotlight reported Santa Clara County has tried to limit the team’s ability to operate in the area and the 49ers organization sued the city in return.

The San Jose Spotlight reported that an average of 20 events at Levi’s Stadium per year would provide an extra $66,500 of yearly revenue for the city. This is good for Santa Clara and the stadium is right next to the very convenient soccer park, but instead of thinking about the money, the city needs to think about the community. Kids play countless games and tournaments at that park. The perfect grass and the gigantic field make kids’ experiences at the park unforgettable. And now they may not be able to use it just because the city wants some extra cash.

According to an article by Mercury news, the 49ers organization is not involved in Jain’s proposal. The article included this statement from the 49ers organization, “We have not asked for, nor do we need any additional parking, but do encourage Mayor Gillmor to find more ways to increase revenue to offset her million-dollar city manager and irresponsible executive staff salaries.”

Santa Clara has to set a date to vote on the proposal but hopefully, council members think about the community and not the money, and take the 49ers’s slogan “Faithful to the Bay” to heart when making their decision, and keep the Santa Clara Youth Soccer park for the people.