San Jose Earthquakes plan practice facility, public fields at county fairgrounds

At the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, the San Jose Earthquakes are building a massive new training facility complete with medical facilities, locker rooms, a theater and a dining hall. 

Rising from the asphalt, there will be a state-of-the-art soccer complex and training facility. There will be four practice fields for the San Jose Earthquakes and their youth academy, plus another four fields for the public.

"We expect 200,000 to 300,000 people per year to be able to play on these fields. And that's going to make an incredible difference for everybody," says Jared Shawlee, president of the San Jose Earthquakes.

Serious soccer players, like 10-year-old Justin Sanchez, think it's a great idea. He loves the idea of practicing right next to the pros.

"It's an amazing idea, adding little kids playing with the Earthquakes players. It's amazing," he says.

Right now, finding available soccer fields in San Jose isn't easy. Just ask the Mayor.

"There's a huge void. I used to be a middle school teacher in Eastside. I was also a soccer coach, and we always struggled to find playing fields," says Mayor Matt Mahan of San Jose.

Officials estimate Santa Clara County is short about 50 fields. This new complex will help.

"The workout facilities and the ability to have the academy fields that are also very youth-focused here is incredible," says Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

This development will use 26 acres, of the 150 at the fairgrounds. That leaves a lot of room for other projects. San Jose State University is in talks to rebuild their track and field facility here too, and Cricket USA is in talks to build a stadium.

For families that live nearby, construction can't start soon enough. Juan Sanchez can just imagine his son playing soccer here... or even getting scouted for the Youth Academy.

"Being close to their idols, it's exciting. So it's win-win because they are doing their job, plus they have the inspiration of looking at the guys that are already there," says Juan Sanchez, Justin's father.

There are still a few votes that need to happen before the project is finalized. But officials hope to get it done and open by the time the World Cup comes to the South Bay in 2026.