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Get Ready for Soccer!

Construction of new Creekside Sports Park began Tuesday afternoon.

About a dozen young soccer players shot balls into a small goal Tuesday afternoon to signify the official "kick-off" celebration of the construction of the new Los Gatos youth sports park to be located at 930 University Ave.

The fun activity was chosen instead of a traditional groundbreaking due to the fact that most of the land where the new $6 million, 2.7-acre Creekside Sport Park is located is now concrete.

"It's been a long time coming," said Los Gatos Mayor Joe Pirzynski who presided over the celebration attended by many soccer parents, town residents, government officials and recreation employees. "We're here for the kids. That's really what it comes down to."

Los Gatos Parks and Public Works Director Todd Capurso said the town bought the park's land, located north of and next to the Los Gatos Creek, in 2009. The project was first presented to the community at a Nov. 9, 2010 meeting, where the consensus, according to town officials, was that more soccer fields were needed.

The town has not awarded the park's design contract yet, according to Capurso, but the demolition contract and the bulldozers that began tearing down the old Verizon building on the site were from the Jos. J. Albanese, Inc. construction company.

Ed San Juan, vice president of operations for Los Gatos United Soccer League, stayed true to his word, delivering on a promise to contribute $100,000 to support the facility and pledging to continue support after it opens. With members of the LGUSL's board of directors, he presented Pirzynsksi with a giant cardboard check. The funds came from the league's membership, San Juan said.

"What a day," San Juan exclaimed. "This is something that we've wished for and dreamed about for a long, long time."

San Juan explained that the town has been short on fields for children to play sports for more than three decades. In 1999, with that in mind, LGUSL began putting money away to help build a sports park. "It's a beautiful setting for a field. It will be a big green space ... it will be surrounded by people having a great time watching their kids play."

The park's main attraction will be a 110-yards-long by about 70-yards-wide  soccer low-maintenance turf field that will allow players to have four practices daily, with games on weekends. The facility will also be used by adults and for other sports such as lacrosse, San Juan said.

The facility's parking lot will be located on the property's north side and will accommodate more than 40 vehicles, but the town will enter into an agreement with an adjacent business to use its property for overflow parking. That extra parking lot will be located on the same side of the street where the park is located and will prevent children from crossing streets, which could be dangerous. A walkway will be built to facilitate access.

On the park's south side will be the concession stand and restrooms, accompanied by a climbing boulder for children to play in and an area where a band can perform such as those that play during the popular Music in the Park summer concert series, if desired.

The mayor said, hopefully within a year, the park will be ready for parents and townfolk to cheer the hundreds of young athletes who will use it.

"Youth sports bring a community together," Pirzynski noted.

Soccer mom Wendy Riggs, who serves on the LGUSL's board of directors, expressed delight with the park's construction start. "This is fabulous. It will be great to finally have a new field in the town to play soccer year round, even when it's raining."

Riggs said considering the 1,700 kids playing soccer every year in town and the 175 soccer teams, 75 of those teams playing year-round, the sports park is definitely needed.

Councilwoman Barbara Spector called the celebration one of the most exciting days since she was elected to the Council. "This is special. We don't build parks that often," she said.

Brad Hayden October 20, 2011 at 04:08 AM
Now, given that they're calling it a "sports" park, why does it only have one soccer field. I realize that soccer is an up an coming sport in the US, I can see having a field. But why it that the only sport that can happen there. I'm a soft baller, where's the softball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts? and no skate park. Bathrooms, yes, concession stands, check, but no place to play any other sport. And you've spent or will spend $6+ million on this project before its finished. Sorry but its a waste of money as a single use facility.
Frank Howard October 20, 2011 at 04:39 AM
I agree with Brad. I remember watching that show, "The $6 Million Man." This is the $6 million soccer field. LGUSL only had to pay 100K for it. The rest is the taxpayer's money. Also, looks like not enough parking.
Brad Hayden October 20, 2011 at 06:43 AM
Thanks Frank. I'm all for giving young people someplace to hang out and do something other than get in trouble. But like Frank said, this is a six million dollar soccer field with a couple of support buildings. I've seen mansions with more acreage go for less. Did anyone even do the math? I applaud the Los Gatos Community for wanting to give the kids a sports park, but I think that a little forethought here might have been necessary.
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) October 20, 2011 at 07:16 AM
Thanks for the comments, Brad and Frank. I should have mentioned in the story that the town is spending the exact amount it received years ago when it sold a portion of Vasona to the county. Those funds were set aside by town officials to meet the need for another recreational facility in LG. Also, other sports will be able to be played on the field, not just soccer. Sorry if the story wasn't clear enough. I believe the town has done a good job with this purchase. Land is quite expensive in LG and spots like these are hard to find. The town also had lots of community meetings, and the consensus was that the park be primarily used to meet the needs of the hundreds of soccer players in LG. Thanks for reading and keep commenting!
Ed San Juan November 09, 2011 at 05:35 PM
I feel bad that the posts about the new property are very negative- but since I started volunteering in 1999 to the Los Gatos United Soccer League, I've found that there are just not enough fields or open spaces available. We are impacted daily with the amount of kids wanting to play, and the resulting pressures of only having a few fields available for them to play on. I feel great and lucky that the property was available. When I first joined there were about 1300 kids per year playing, and now we support about 2200 players annually- In the fall we provide 60 games per weekend, with a volunteer coaching staff of about 300 parent coaches, and 140 referees. We don’t advertise, and we never turn anyone away (regardless of ability), and we have true gender equity with equal numbers for both boys and girls. But every year there are more families that sign up to play. I would love the property to be cheaper and less of a burden, but Los Gatos is known for its expensive homes, a nice downtown, and services it provides for the community. But nothing is cheap in Los Gatos, and I still see this as an investment of property available to the community instead of a business park, and also as a commitment to youth in the community. So, I'm sorry folks feel it's a bad choice for the community- I just don't see it that way when it will keep Los Gatos boys and girls enjoying a "Saturday morning" team sport experience for many years to come. Ed San Juan LGUSL Resident of LG since 1978
Melissa Pugh February 08, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Ed, I agree with you. As a life long soccer-player, college then on to Premiere league, this field is fabulous news. LGUSL is awesome and it is a league that both parents and kids are excited about. Way to go!!!
Maria Ristow February 08, 2012 at 10:43 PM
I can understand the concern that all this money is only buying one field. As a soccer parent and LGUSL Board member, I felt we needed two fields. But this is the land the town purchased, and there aren't many places in this town to put a big, flat sport field. All the land in LG is costly. As far as other sports, soccer has about twice as many players as baseball, but baseball has two dedicated, town-owned fields. There are already tennis courts at Blossom Hill park. There is not a strong demand for outdoor basketball courts. For an organized sport that serves about 2000 town youth, soccer has had to negotiate and borrow every little plot of grass we can find. This one field will go a long way to helping out a large number of soccer-playing kids in Los Gatos. Furthermore, the town stipulated that the sport park needs to be maintained at no cost to the town. So LGUSL will be absorbing that cost.

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