OCEANSIDE — It has been a long time coming for attendees who were all smiles at the long-awaited groundbreaking of the El Corazon Park soccer fields on Nov. 14.
The vision for El Corazon Park began 13 years ago and planning for the soccer fields to be developed as the first phase of the park began six years after that.
“It’s plans long in the making for the city, city youth and future,” Tyrone Matthews, El Corazon Oversight Committee chairman, said. “It’s the legacy of a strong and bright city. We’re just getting started to deliver on the dream.”
The development of the soccer fields is a unique private public partnership between Sudberry Properties, SoCal Sports and the city of Oceanside.
Pat Collins, limited partner of SoCal Sports, said Sudberry Properties is funding development of the 20 soccer fields with the agreement they will develop the rest of the 465-acre park that includes baseball fields, recreation use, park space and commercial and retail property.
SoCal Sports will develop the fields and bring in tournaments to utilize them. Collins said SoCal Sports has agreed to pay the city 10 percent of field rental fees after $1.4 million is earned to cover the company’s initial start up costs.
In the meantime, sports tournaments held on the fields are expected to have an annual $46 million economic impact.
“From day one the city will benefit from transient occupancy and sales tax,” Collins said.
Collins said the partnership was a “perfect storm” of visions, needs and resources coming together.
“It’s the perfect merger of private and public coming together to benefit the community,” Collins said. “It’s a win completely around the table. Everyone is getting more than they bargained for. The city has very little risk.”
For SoCal Sports it was a unique opportunity to find a space where 20 fields could be developed.
The location of the beach city between San Diego and Los Angeles makes it a magnet for tournaments.
“We’re trying to accomplish this for the greater good of sports in San Diego County,” Collins said.
Five fields will remain available rent free to the Soccer Club of Oceanside, which serves more than 2,000 local youth in recreational and competitive divisions.
“I can’t articulate what this means,” Frank Zimmerman, board member of the Soccer Club of Oceanside, said.
Collins said tournaments on the other 15 fields would be kept to fewer than 20 a year to maintain the health of the fields.
Currently the city is undertaking grading 100 acres to get 20 temporary fields and parking in place. Collins said putting in initial temporary fields would save the city the cost of putting in “full-blown streets and gutters.”
“It’s a huge savings with the same benefits,” Collins said.
Once fields are graded, SoCal Sports will roll out sod in April 2014, and the new fields will be ready for play by that June. In addition to soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and pass league football tournaments will utilize the fields.