Quakes get the keys to new practice facility

"It's about time" for $1.25M investment west of airport

The San Jose Earthquakes’ brand-new
practice center was once scheduled to open on June 1, but instead saw its first
action Friday as the team worked out in advance of facing Colorado at home on Saturday
night.

The Nutrilite Training Facility
might have been open even earlier than that, if coach Frank Yallop had been
given half a chance.

“It was finished ahead of schedule,
and we made the decision to hold off [on the opening],” Earthquakes executive
vice president David Alioto told MLSsoccer.com. “We made sure we didn’t give
Frank Yallop the keys.”

They did Friday.

After using facilities at West
Valley College in Saratoga and Santa Clara University, the Quakes have their
own home. No more having to change at team headquarters and then drive 20
minutes to the field, or having to walk back to the locker rooms along a busy
thoroughfare in order to avoid a construction zone.

“Everyone’s excited about it,”  said captain Ramiro Corrales. “It’s about
time.”

In the space of two months, the
Quakes have opened their first youth academy and finished the training center,
which is located at the same spot just west of San Jose International Airport
where the team is hoping to build a soccer-only stadium.

“The first thing is getting the
training pitch,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com. “The next thing is getting a
stadium.”

The $1.25 million practice facility
represents many things to the Quakes, who hope it will help to stoke fan
excitement. With chain-link fencing around part of the field, supporters can
view their favorite Quakes players during the week, instead of just on game
days.

“For the players, I think it’s
critical they have a place of their own,” Alioto said. “For the management,
it’s important to have the first piece in place. For the fans, it’s great to
have a place where they can see us. It gives us a footprint at the new
stadium site.”

It also gives the Quakes a better
chance at convincing a designated player to join them, if San Jose decides to
go that route in the future. To players coming from a top league in Europe, for
example, driving themselves out to WVC for training would represent more than a
little bit of culture shock.

“The more things you can have in
your favor, the better,” defender Chris Leitch said. “It’s nice to see the
club, the ownership group, and [general manager] John Doyle step up and
identify a great need, a training facility we can use any time. It’s just one
step closer to being a complete club. I’ve seen in my short time being here
some changes being made that enables this club to have no excuses.”

Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes
for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @sjquakes.