Santa Clara County and the San Jose Earthquakes have entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement to explore the possibility of a long-term lease for a soccer training complex and practice fields at the county fairgrounds.

County officials said the plan would be to lease nearly 15 acres of the fairgrounds property to the Earthquakes for facilities for their professional team that is part of the Major League Soccer league, as well as for practice fields and a training site for the team’s Earthquakes Academy youth program.

The Earthquakes initially sent a letter of interest to the county in 2020 about leasing land at the fairgrounds site, and Santa Clara County is also considering developing up to six publicly available soccer fields that would adjoin the site leased by the Earthquakes.

The exclusive negotiating agreement period will last for 12 months for the team and county to analyze potential costs and revenues and produce a proposed development agreement.

“We are so excited about the opportunity to have more places for children and families to play and be outside in such a healthy way,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said in a statement. “Once again the San Jose Earthquakes are investing in the community and the team with state-of-the-art fields and practice facilities.”

San Jose Earthquakes officials also expressed excitement about the proposal for the new soccer facilities and fields.

“As part of our club ethos, we wanted to pursue an opportunity that not only provided a first-class complex for our professional and youth teams, but also to facilitate the development of the premier public-use youth and adult soccer facility in Northern California,” Earthquakes president Jared Shawlee said. “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the County of Santa Clara that has a shared vision for these goals.”

Dan McMenamin is the managing editor at Bay City News, directing daily news coverage of the 12-county greater Bay Area. He has worked for BCN since 2008 and has been managing editor since 2014 after previously serving as BCN’s San Francisco bureau reporter. A UC Davis graduate, he came to BCN after working for a newspaper and nonprofit in the Davis area. He handles staffing, including coaching of our interns, day-to-day coverage decisions and management of the newswire.