New operator promises to boost sports park

A new contract for Morgan Hill’s sports field complex has been in the works for over two years, but this July the new contractor, the Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center, will take over the operation of the park. The city hopes the new operator will bring new clients and tourism to Morgan Hill.

The park will officially change hands on July 8, with Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center LLC paying $400,000 for improvements to the fields. The new operator is named after the sports park it will be operating on Condit Road that has the same name. Chris Ghione, the city’s director of community services, said the former contractor, Morgan Hill Youth Sports Alliance (MHYSA), had lost regional soccer tournaments as clients—thus resulting in lost revenue—and the city decided to put out a request for proposals to new contractors.

In 2017, the council voted to send out the RFPs and although MHYSA submitted a proposal, they were not selected by the council. The San Jose Soccer Foundation joined together with Orchard Valley Youth Soccer and CYSA (Cal North) to create the new company, known as Outdoor Sports Center, that will operate the sports park.

Because the San Jose Soccer Foundation fundraises for its projects, Ghione said the foundation allotted $400,000 of those funds to make the improvements they thought were necessary. Ghione told the Times that improvements will include new grass and fields, but that the scheduled games will not be interrupted.

“You’re going to see kind of a gradual change,” said Ghione. “They’re going to start to do some of those investments.”

The Outdoor Sports Center signed a 10-year contract with the city, but according to the 2017 staff report, after five years the city can terminate the contract after repaying the $400,000. “The operator shall pay 75 percent of its net profits to the city to be held in a reserve fund for replacement of major facility components (including artificial turf fields),” said the staff report. “The city shall have no responsibility for operator deficits.”

Ghione said the city is hoping to bring back old business that left the sports park under the former operator, while also gaining new clients. “The first priority is really getting some of the soccer tournaments back,” Ghione told the Times.

The Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center is located at 16500 Condit Road. MHYSA has operated the 38-acre complex of soccer fields for about the last decade. Most of the fields are natural turf, though the facility houses two artificial turf fields, which the city paid about $1.4 million to resurface in 2018.

The City of Gilroy recently signed an exclusivity agreement with San Jose Sharks Entertainment for a possible recreational ice facility to be operated out of their city’s sports park. Ghione said Morgan Hill would also be interested in these kind of deals, but is focusing on getting the local soccer field complex updated and bringing old business back for now.

According to the 2017 city staff report, the city has invested $100,000 in refurbishing the facilities. Since then, the city has also paid $1.4 million from its park maintenance fund to replace the artificial turf field surfaces. Ghione said this work and the change in partnership is all in hopes of bringing tourism and business to the city.

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