Last week, the City Council spent nearly two hours discussing the development of four new recreational soccer fields that would be located next to the new San Jose Earthquakes soccer stadium by Lowe’s and In & Out Burger on Coleman Avenue. The soccer fields were a specific line item under Measure P, which voters passed in November 2000.
The larger parcel was purchased in 2005 under the guise of “economic development.” The land was purchased with lease revenue bonds. These types of bonds do not require voter approval and were the same type of bonds used to buy land for golf and the Hayes Mansion.
The general fund is currently leveraged at about $800 million for these type of bonds. We currently pay $4.5 million in debt service for the land. In my view, the city should keep industrial land zoned industrial and not convert to housing. If we did, then we would not be so inclined to buy land for “economic development”—which usually takes money away from our general fund. I like to call this land banking without spending money.
Quite a bit of the repetitive discussion at council was spent on the fact that each council district will put $100K towards the new soccer fields. This money comes from a fund that is restricted for park use and could otherwise be used to fix playground equipment. Some felt that $100K was a huge amount of money and that it really was not equitable, because people will have to pay to use the soccer fields and not all residents can teleport to the new soccer fields.
These fields will be run like our other playing fields in San Jose, where users pay a fee. The hope is that the fees from people who play soccer will make this pencil out, otherwise we do not build the soccer fields. Unfortunately, the golf course fee to play does not pay the entire cost and the city subsidizes golf for more than seven figures.
San Jose has public transportation options, but we will not be providing point-to-point transportation. If each council district wants their own soccer field then it is a matter of available land and money. For example, a soccer field requires nearly three acres of land, which costs approximately $2 million an acre for a total of $6 million. But this is just the price of land, assuming you have a willing seller. The cost to build out a soccer field with artificial turf is $2.8-3.8 million, depending on whether there will be a restroom, parking and other public works improvements.
I am looking forward to the soccer fields for co-ed adult and co-ed young adult teams, so that the neighborhood fields that we do have can be made available for neighborhoods.
Pierluigi Oliverio represents District 6 on the San Jose City Council.