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Washington Park Now Costing Youth Baseball

The City of Santa Clara is home to some iconic sports history.

Brandi Chastain, Kerri Walsh Jennings, Carney Lansford and Mitch Haniger are just a few big name professional athletes with Santa Clara ties. Chastain most famously starred at Santa Clara University before going on to win the World Cup for Team USA in 1999 where her penalty kick goal remains the most memorable moment in women’s soccer history.

Furthermore, there are numerous sporting venues in the City of Santa Clara, like Townsend Field, for example, that have been a source of pride for the community. Townsend has been the longtime home for the storied Pop Warner Football program the Santa Clara Lions. Craig Connelly has been leading that program since 1968.

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Another legendary location for Santa Clara sports fans stands right next door, Washington Park. The baseball stadium that sits right between Buchser Middle School and Washington Open Elementary used to be the home field for the Santa Clara High Bruins. Going back decades, not only did the Bruins play home games at Washington, the team also hosted an annual early-season tournament. The yearly fundraiser would bring in money for uniforms and equipment like gloves, bats, baseballs, batting screens, etc. There was never any charge to the schools for using the field…until now.

Just prior to the start of the 2023 baseball season, the City of Santa Clara decided to charge schools for using Washington Park for tournament games. After initial push back a year ago, the City and the schools agreed to a reduced amount. However, according to Wilcox Head Coach Matt Huth, there was no such reduction offered this year and he was told that his varsity tournament would cost $4,000 and his junior varsity would cost $6,000.

“I had to cancel the JV tournament altogether because of it,” noted Huth on the cost to use Washington Park.

Santa Clara Bruins Head Coach Pedro Martinez also elected to go away from Washington Park for his tournament for the same reason. The $5,000 charge for his tournament would have been far more than what his program eventually paid to use the facilities at the new MacDonald campus. The Bruins ended up paying just $1,200 for custodial fees.

So, what does the City have to say about the Washington Park fees? There was a meeting on March 14, 2024 where the issue was discussed.

“Representatives of the various sports groups participated in the meeting,” said a Santa Clara spokesperson. “At that meeting, the groups were advised that there would be no proposed increase for the coming year and that the meeting was the first of what is intended to be an on-going dialog with the user groups moving forward.”

Moving forward Santa Clara and Wilcox won’t have MacDonald’s field available due to the Condors having a varsity program beginning next season. That was a short-term solution and Washington Park is still incredibly valuable for bigger tournaments.

Not only does Washington have lights for night games, but the 1,500-seat grandstands are legendary. Martinez himself played at Wilcox and fondly remembers playing games under the bright lights.

But with the decision from the City to charge thousands of dollars, the iconic stadium now sits empty. Wilcox and Santa Clara have each decided not to play there at all in 2024. No hot dogs, no crackerjacks, no three strikes and you’re out, only crickets.

Related Posts:
Wilcox Baseball Shows Off All Three Phases In Win Over Evergreen Valley
Bruins Baseball Opens 2024 Season In Impressive Fashion

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3 Comments
  1. Yay Sports 1 month ago
    Reply

    Funny, the school district doesn’t like paying the high fees. But, they sure don’t mind passing along high fees to the local youth non-profit sports groups & their tax paying families. Perhaps if they showed more mercy, so would the city…

  2. Well written 4 weeks ago
    Reply

    Well written. It would be nice if you wrote similar articles for the issues the local youth sports organizations are having with the school district. Whoever wrote those articles sounded very one sided and lacked facts.

  3. RJ 4 weeks ago
    Reply

    How else are city employees going to fund their exorbitant income and grossly generous pensions? That’s right, charge taxpayers for services current property taxes should have already paid for. Unit 6’s 2023 salary increase was 5%, 2024 is 4%, and it’s time, once again, to negotiate 2025 and 2026. https://www.santaclaraca.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/74903/637921085324830000

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