New Soccer Fields in Richmond

Recently I joined Richmond Recreation and Parks Commissioner Samantha Torres at Nicholl Park, where she was busy coaching girls from the Richmond United soccer team. Between drills, we talked about her campaign to build more soccer fields here in the city, which she is organizing with leaders of several other Richmond soccer clubs. 

Richmond currently has far fewer soccer fields than one would expect from a city of this size. Parents, coaches and kids have been asking for more fields for decades, but in the past there was little room in the city budget to build and maintain them. In addition to the field itself, bathroom facilities must be offered in order to properly host practices and home games here in city parks. But since Richmond voters approved Measure U in 2020, a small tax on revenue of the city’s most profitable corporations, the city’s finances have improved. In fact, this year our city will likely have a several million dollar surplus. 

I agreed with Samantha that now is a good time to revisit the soccer field issue, so I placed an item on the City Council agenda. On July 11 the council passed unanimously a motion to:

  • Direct staff to bring forward the parks assessment in September with a clear plan about what city parks could accommodate soccer fields of different sizes and how much it would cost.
  • Create an MOU with West Contra Costa United School District (WCCUSD) that would allow soccer leagues to have access to school facilities 
  • Initiate a community engagement process with neighborhood councils so we can balance the need for soccer fields with other uses of our parks
  • Look at our anticipated budget surplus as funding source
  • Ensure that existing bathrooms at MLK park are properly cleaned and open during soccer activities

On top of her campaign for field space, Samantha is a fierce advocate for including more girls in team sports. Most of Richmond’s soccer teams are for boys and men, but Samantha is building a group of coaches and supporters to lift up the girls’ programs. When I asked her if she was asking for donations, she said no, what she needs is coaches and volunteers to help with the girls’ league. Could that be you? If so, please reach out to her directly at [email protected].