April may mean showers to some but this year in Morgan Hill,
April means sports, a parking squeeze and no room at the inn.
Starting Thursday, the community at the Aquatics Center hosts a
regional swim meet with visitors from throughout the western United
States and Canada.
April may mean showers to some but this year in Morgan Hill, April means sports, a parking squeeze and no room at the inn.

Starting Thursday, the community at the Aquatics Center hosts a regional swim meet with visitors from throughout the western United States and Canada.

The swim meet will be followed by a Grand Prix bike race downtown on Sunday, April 10, and the Wildflower 10k Run at Live Oak High School on Sunday, April 17. Both are expected to attract a number of out-of-town visitors.

Mayor Dennis Kennedy said he was eagerly awaiting the Far Westerns Short Course Championship Swim Meet and bike race and not just because he likes to swim.

“This is a great way to promote Morgan Hill,” Kennedy said. “It’s a way to bring people into town, to help our businesses and further enhance our image as a destination. People can have fun while they’re here and remember us in the future.”

Morgan Hill Swim Club’s John Rick estimated that the 3,000 plus visitors will leave behind between $180,000 and $240,000 at local hotels, restaurants, shops and the movie theater. But, beyond the economic bonus to the city budget and local merchants, Rick encourages residents to drop by the center on Condit Road and take a look.

“People can come and watch for free,” Rick said. “It will be controlled chaos – colorful with constant movement – but it will be fun.”

Serious planning has gone into preparing for the swim meet and bike race, with Bob Martin leading the charge for the Chamber of Commerce.

“This is something the city hasn’t seen before,” Martin said.

Notifying business owners was a big part of the preparations.

“Working with the Chamber and the Downtown Association, we’ve contacted several hundred merchants about the events,” Martin said, “and 56 of them are advertising.”

He has made sure that any merchant who might be affected was given a heads-up to prepare and possibly even take an ad in the slick, four-color swim meet program.

“The (swim club) had an agreement with the Chamber’s Economic Development Committee back in November, even before the meet was officially sanctioned, to notify business owners,” he said.

Martin said Rosy’s at the Beach and other restaurants are already getting calls wanting to reserve space for large groups during the meet weekend.

Paul Gunsky, president of Cinelux Theatres, including the newly renovated movie theater complex in the Tennant Station Shopping Center, said he was notified in time to take an ad. He wrote in an e-mail that they would be showing “Jaws” and “Titanic” in honor of the water connection.

“But that’s just a joke,” Gunsky said.

The eight screens will actually be playing their usual kid and family friendly, first-run movies.

Martin said the chamber will staff a concierge table next to the registration table the first three days of the swim meet, handing out information packets and answering questions about where to find the best Mexican or Thai food in town, where to find coffee, a book store, churches or where the movie theater is – or anything else they care to ask. Chamber ambassadors, who will staff the table, know the town well.

“We want to be sure their first Morgan Hill experience is favorable,” Martin said.

All five hotels on Condit Road, from the Holiday Inn Express down to the Inn at Morgan Hill, are full; most other hotels in town are full, too. Adding to the squeeze, Gilroy hotels are full with visitors to the annual Goldsmith Seeds Spring Seed Trials, also the weekend of April 2-3.

Besides the city collecting about 1 percent from all sales taxes added to retail sales and a 10 percent hotel room tax, the Aquatics Center will earn its bit, too, about $30,000 from renting the center.

The Aquatics Center, with swim club volunteers, will handle the retail angle – swimsuits, goggles, Aquatics Center T-shirts plus the snack bar. The Makos will keep 10 percent for their volunteering.

“The money goes back to the Aquatics Center anyway,” Rick said, “to pay for using the (pool) lanes.”

A private group will provide custom apparel with swimmers’ names on the back – with 15 percent returned to the Makos.

The Morgan Hill Swim Club, the Makos, will realize about $13,000 from the four-day event, Ricks estimated.

Other upcoming April activities include Pony Baseball Opening Day ceremonies, a Northern California State Cup soccer tournament, the Hike Up El Toro, the South Valley Athletic Foundation’s Wine Auction, a Japanese spring festival, the FFA/Live Oak Ag Boosters’ spring auction and the Rotary Club’s “Let’s Go to the Hop” back to the 50’s bash.

Visitors to the 45th Haru Matsuri (spring festival) and Taiko Expo, on Murphy Avenue, just one narrow block away from the Aquatics Center, will vie for free parking on Sunday, April 3, the final day of swim competition.

On Saturday and Sunday, the regional Soccer Complex, next door to the Aquatics Center on Condit Road, is hosting a State Cup tournament with 1,400 players, ages 15 and over, plus coaches, family and friends.

“Parking is going to be tight near the Aquatics Center,” Martin said, though not so tight as it would be if four hotels weren’t across the street from the swim center and well within walking distance.

Motorists would do well to avoid East Dunne and Tennant avenues near Murphy, Condit and U.S. 101, and expect crowds at local restaurants, he said.

The swim meet begins at 9am each day, with finals scheduled for 4pm.

Recreation Manager Julie Spier said she was thrilled that the Aquatics Center was chosen to host the swim meet.

“This was the purpose of the center remaining open during the off season,” Spier said, “for events when the public isn’t impacted.”

If all goes well, the city might expect to draw similar events when the Outdoor Sports Complex opens on the site of the soccer complex. Plans are for the soccer complex to move to a site adjacent to Sobrato High.

“This is a perfect example of what the City Council had in mind when they invested RDA money and how the city can benefit,” Martin said.

Carol Holzgrafe covers City Hall for The Times. She can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or phoning (408) 779-4106, ext. 201.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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