Image via Google Earth.
Written by Edward Smith
Correction: A previous version of the story had an incorrect location for the soccer facility.
Even as Covid has the sports industry reeling across the globe, three men — two of them with extensive backgrounds in Central Valley athletics — are using the downtime to build a new soccer complex in Visalia with the hopes to open just as the world does.
Jeremy Schultz, former assistant general manager of the Fresno FC Foxes, Bill Cummings, former owner of the Fresno Grizzlies as well as the Fresno Fuego, and J.R. Shannon, a prominent Tulare County farmer, have teamed up to bring Soccer City 1852 Visalia to the area.
The trio are currently in escrow on a 19,000 square foot facility at 421 N. Johnson St. And by the time they hope it opens in spring 2021, plans are to have transformed it into two soccer fields for league play, and a brewery to provide the suds, according to Schultz.
Cummings, who also owns Legacy Construction, is taking on the work of renovating the former industrial space, said Schultz. The two “street-style” fields will accommodate league play. Teams will be divided into different age groups or even different family settings, says Schultz, dads and daughters versus mothers and sons, for instance.
Cummings also helped renovate Granite Park in Fresno, a similar project.
They won’t need to do much demolition at the former warehouse space, says Schultz.
The project has been through one level of site plan review with the City of Visalia and they still have a list of things they need to accomplish.
The location in the northwestern part of downtown Visalia has been up and coming for several years. It is located east of Recreation Park, where the Visalia Rawhide baseball team plays.
Both Schultz and Cummings have extensive backgrounds in the world of soccer, and Schultz is confident the demand exists for soccer leagues.
Whereas previous projects, such as the Fresno Fuego and Fresno FC, have focused on the team capacity, Schultz calls this project “a vision of connection of our community.”
Schultz started a youth club in Visalia in 2002 called South Valley United that is still in existence. When he returned from Fresno after his jaunt with the two soccer teams, he returned to his position with the youth league.
“Once I got back in the trenches with soccer, I knew there was a need for a facility like this,” said Schultz.
Supplementing the two soccer fields will be a brewery between them, operating under the Soccer City 1852 business name. They are currently in search of a brewmaster.
While the project took a couple years to finally get where it’s at today, Schultz is happy about the timing. If it had opened just before the pandemic, the new business would have been hurting for participation. Now, if shelter-in-place orders begin to recede by next spring, when they hope to open, they’ll be perfectly timed for people ready to go out.
“By spring 2021, I think everyone’s going to be pretty anxious to get back together,” Schultz said. “The timing will be really good.”