New Santa Fe arena soccer team raises concerns within community

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SANTA FE, N.M. – There’s excitement in Santa Fe over a new arena soccer team that might be coming to town this year.

Last month, city officials announced a new major arena soccer league team will start this coming December. There’s no mention of how much it will cost the city, but it does say they plan to play “a minimum of six home games at the city-run Genoveva Chavez Community Center in the ice area.”

They will reportedly put down indoor turf to protect the ice and allow the soccer team to play. The announcement made it sound like a done deal, adding there will be town hall discussions with the team owner. 

However, now there are some raising the alarm about how the city plans to change things at the community center. Plus, KOB 4 learned this is not a done deal and now there’s a growing call for some Santa Fe elected officials to intervene.

“Truly, it is great seeing those 5 and 6-year-olds that are so excited, and a little nervous, getting out there to get out on the ice for the first time,” said Tammy Berendzen, president of the Santa Fe Skating Club. 

Berendzen loves seeing young people learn something new.

“They are coming off the ice with these huge smiles, and they can’t wait to go back out there,” said Berendzen. 

Berendzen directs the “Learn to Skate” program. She says they’ve taught 500 people how to skate since 2017 at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center.

“It’s a family affair for us, and it’s a family affair for so many other people that are involved in skating,” said Berendzen. 

Then, when she read the city’s press release that at least six weekends – starting in the busiest winter-sports season – the ice would become a turf arena.

“I was angry,” Berendzen said. 

She says there are greater concerns about the ice going away for good considering conversations during the pandemic.

“In June of 2020 about whether or not the city was going to decide to do a permanent conversion of the ice rink in that point in time into an indoor multi-use field,” said Berendzen. 

She has these concerns even though she doesn’t skate herself.

“Spina Bifida is a birth defect, and I’ve had it my entire life,” she said. “But, I became a lover of the sport of figure skating when I was 15 during the Calgary Olympics.”

She’s hoping this ice and the lessons learned there will continue in the future.

“And it is such a great skill to be able to have in life to learn that not everything is easy, and there are certain things that take a lot of time and effort to achieve,” she said. 

David Frezquez is the owner of the new yet-to-be-named arena soccer team.

We spoke with him on the phone Monday afternoon, and he has similar goals as Berendzen, and wants this new soccer team to be a resource for the children of Santa Fe.

“I do intend for this team to continuously bring together the community even tighter than it already it is,” said Frezquez. “My niece and nephew skate in the hockey rink all the time, so this is not for the soccer franchise to take away ice time from the youth, that is certainly not my intention.”

Fresquez did not answer questions about how much public funding he’s looking for to get his yet-to-be-named soccer team off the ground.

The city sent KOB 4 a statement that says their intent is to minimally impact the ice skating community, and they are still getting quotes on the cost.