Quakes stadium faces final Planning Commission vote

On Wednesday I’ll be at the San Jose Planning Commission hearing at City Hall at 6:30. From all indications, so will numerous Earthquakes fans who have been patiently waiting for a final “yes” vote for construction to begin on the 18,000-seat, soccer-specific stadium near Mineta Airport.

Low profile stadium with roof, lights, and "controversial" gap

At the end of 2011, a resident from the nearby Newhall neighborhood appealed the granting of a building permit on the grounds that environmental issues such as noise and light pollution were not adequately addressed. That forced the project to go under another (hopefully final) review to determine if the design of the stadium, including the shape of the bowl and roof, would properly protect the residents of Newhall.

Newhall is actually split in two by Caltrain. The bulk of it lies southwest of the tracks and extends to The Alameda and Park Avenue, close to Santa Clara University. The resident who filed the appeal appears to be from the area across the tracks, where multiple high density developments have been built in the last decade or so. The smaller part of Newhall is hemmed in by the heavily used railroad tracks to the west, I-880 to the east, and the airport to the north, That area is an odd place for any kind of neighborhood. It’s right next to the landing approach to the airport. It’s zoned Heavy Industrial and for decades was right next to the FMC plant, which was closed and bought by the City before it was resold (an option at least) to Lew Wolff and partners for a stadium/commercial development. The neighborhood is so small that when looking at it from an aerial photo, it appears that it could fit inside the Lowe’s store that opened nearby a couple years ago.

Getting back to the appeal, here’s what City staff wrote was the gist (warning – 9 MB PDF):

The Appellant states “The applicant has not met the burden of proof that the design complies with the EIR, because the noise and light impacts of the proposed stadium have not been properly simulated” and requests additional analysis. The Appellant specifically identifies a “large open-air gap between the top of the stands and the roof structure” as a change to the stadium design that was not adequately analyzed and requests that the stadium design be changed to enclose this area. The Appellant also requests that the Permit prohibit artificial noisemakers, such as vuvuzelas and other horns, within the stadium and in stadium parking areas, and also prohibit distribution of such devices by the operator. An updated Noise Report (attached) has been provided in response to the issues raised in the Appeal.

And the response:

The updated Noise Report clarifies that the currently proposed stadium design would not generate noise levels greater than those studied and disclosed in the project EIR because: 1) the current proposal has an amount of open area comparable to the stadium which was used as the basis for analysis in the EIR (the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles); 2) minor proposed changes to the stadium design are either comparable or beneficial in terms of the stadium’s overall potential for noise generation; and 3) the proposed stadium would only have 2/3 of the seating capacity of the analyzed stadium, thereby reducing the potential for noise generated by people attending the soccer games. As part of this discussion, the Report clarifies that changes to the stadium design include the overall reduction in size and height, due to the decreased capacity, reorientation of the open end of the stadium away from the residential neighborhood, and the addition of a small roof structure above the stadium seating area. The updated Report concludes that as a result of these changes the current stadium design would have the potential to generate noise impacts consistent with or less than those analyzed in the project EIR.

The Appeal raises the concern that a “gap” between the stadium seating and roof structure, which did not existing in the prior design, would result in potential light impacts upon the residential neighborhood. As noted above, the stadium design analyzed in the EIR did not include a roof structure. The addition of this roof and the reduction of the overall stadium height should help to reduce potential noise and light levels emanating form the stadium. All of the proposed stadium lights would be oriented downward toward the playing field and located either underneath the roof structure, or, at the open end of the field furthest from the residential neighborhood, on a free-standing pole that would not be taller than the stadium structure. Therefore, given for the proposed stadium design the distance of separation to the residential neighborhood, the height of the stadium lights, and the shielding of those lights by the stadium structure, the stadium lights would not have an impact upon the residential neighborhood. Other structures to be built on the adjoining and intervening properties, including facilities related to the BART (and possibly the high-speed rail) projects, would further screen the stadium from the residential neighborhood.

In short, the City is arguing that noise pollution would be the same as or less than those studied at Home Depot Center, especially because the planned stadium is smaller. In doing so, noise levels would be deemed acceptable, allowing the project to move forward. The Appellant argued that the gap between the roof would cause noise to leak out of the stadium and into the surrounding neighborhood. The stadium’s horseshoe shape was designed to channel crowd and PA noise out of the open end, the northeast side closest to the airport. The roof, which is tight to the rim of the stadium, is supposed to assist with this. The lights are tucked under the roof, which should limit light leakage.

All things considered, I think the Earthquakes and 360 architecture have made great pains to conceive a stadium that would have minimal impact on area residents (though it should be mentioned that the CEQA process is about much more than impacting residents). The project should be approved. The issues identified by the appeal aren’t unique to the situation. Measures being taken to restrict noisemaking devices such as horns or vuvuzelas will help a ton. Beyond that there isn’t much more the team can do. If noise really does leak out of the gap, the team could easily wrap the gap in long vinyl panels. I’d prefer they didn’t do this as the gap helps airflow during the summer. The time has come to stop studying and start building. Let’s get the Quakes the home they’ve deserved for so long.

P.S. – If you read the staff report, including the chronology of events, you’ll notice that the process looks somewhat similar to how the Diridon ballpark EIR was approved. When a complete San Jose ballpark concept is submitted by the A’s, you can expect similar treatment, except in the A’s case the stakes are far higher and the impacts potentially greater.

37 thoughts on “Quakes stadium faces final Planning Commission vote

  1. Just my opinion, but you shouldn’t move near an airport, freeway and rail line, and then cry about noise. 100% completely ridiculous! Same could be said about living in/ near the downtown of a major American city.

  2. By the way, love how the lights of the SSS are tucked under the roof. Perhaps the final design of Cisco Field will incorporate this design as well (looks clean).

  3. I hope not. While it may minimize problems with the neighbors, but there’s something aesthetically pleasing about big light standards.

  4. Cannot wait for Wednesday. I will be there! Hopefully just a formality for process and they continue on with groundbreaking

  5. Once the Quakes actually being playing their home games within SJ city limits, it’d be kinda neat to see them adopt a color scheme closer to the Sharks.

  6. Quakes, A’s and Sharks rocking the teal will officially make this Teal Town USA

  7. Though I’d prefer the A’s stick with their traditional colors, I’m not against them synchronizing with their NHL neighbors– but the M’s already have teal covered in the AL West.

  8. Hopefully not. The Quakes fans fought hard to maintain their colors/logo/records (ala Cleveland Browns) when the first MLS team left. And they’ve continued to fight hard to get the team back in blue jerseys since 2008 which finally happened this year. Teal isn’t their color, blue is… Same with the A’s, they’re green and gold, period.

    Want teal, buy Sharks gear.

  9. @Dan I’m with you on this.

  10. A’s just signed Man Ram.

  11. What is with this bizarre need to change the A’s colors on here? Green and Gold are synonymous with A’s baseball. BTW, blech to the Manny signing. I can’t ever see myself rooting for that guy.

  12. eb, I’ll still be booing him. I don’t care what jersey he’s wearing, Manny is one of those asshats who remains an asshat regardless of what jersey he is wearing. Barry Bonds would have been another. They’re cut from the same cloth, except Bonds produced better while being doped.

  13. Yeah, I’m not a Manny fan either and I hate this signing. That said, my hatred of this signing is much more entertaining than the numbness I had about the Jonny Gomes signing. Ken Korach did a great interview a few years back about the importance of having characters on the roster. He said it helped him better compose stories when he knew Frank Thomas was coming up 4th the next inning, for example. Nothing like a good villain (even when he’s wearing your colors) to spice things up.

  14. That’s the difference between Frank and ManRam though… Frank was a good villain. ManRam is a doped up, cheating, douche with a bad attitude.

  15. Yes, the Quakes and A’s should keep their current colors. I love the blue and black of the Quakes, and I love the green and gold of the A’s. No reason to go to teal, just because the Sharks have it. Let each team have it’s own identity.
    .
    I’m cool with the ManRam signing. Yes, a doped up douche in the past. But now he’s an old guy desperate to play, and to prove to the world he has something in the tank, and to prove he isn’t reliant on PEDs. From the A’s standpoint, there is zero risk, and potential reward. They’re only giving him $500,000, and they can release him at any time if a) he doesn’t produce, or b) goes back to “bad Manny” tendencies. Regardless of what Manny does, he will help put fannies in the seats.
    .
    On that last point, I think (hope) there will be an attendance upswing this year, for the following reasons:
    1. Moneyball – huge success at the box office, and with critics, and with fans, and has helped create a big buzz around the A’s.
    2. The Angels getting Pujols and Wilson, and the Rangers getting Darvish. Those teams/players will be a bigger draw, and the A’s play ‘em multiple times.
    3. Getting Cespedes – huge buzz about that. Huge potential upside, regardless of how he adjusts to MLB, he will attract a lot of interest, media attention, and fans in the stands.
    4. ManRam – again, regardless of what he does, he’ll help sell tickets.

    • Yes, the Quakes and A’s should keep their current colors.I love the blue and black of the Quakes, and I love the green and gold of the A’s.No reason to go to teal, just because the Sharks have it.Let each team have it’s own identity.
      .
      I’m cool with the ManRam signing.Yes, a doped up douche in the past.But now he’s an old guy desperate to play, and to prove to the world he has something in the tank, and to prove he isn’t reliant on PEDs.From the A’s standpoint, there is zero risk, and potential reward.They’re only giving him $500,000, and they can release him at any time if a) he doesn’t produce, or b) goes back to “bad Manny” tendencies.Regardless of what Manny does, he will help put fannies in the seats.
      .
      On that last point, I think (hope) there will be an attendance upswing this year, for the following reasons:
      1.Moneyball – huge success at the box office, and with critics, and with fans, and has helped create a big buzz around the A’s.
      2.The Angels getting Pujols and Wilson, and the Rangers getting Darvish.Those teams/players will be a bigger draw, and the A’s play ‘em multiple times.
      3.Getting Cespedes – huge buzz about that.Huge potential upside, regardless of how he adjusts to MLB, he will attract a lot of interest, media attention, and fans in the stands.
      4.ManRam – again, regardless of what he does, he’ll help sell tickets.

      I agree. I would also like to add that our schedule is much favorable to higher attendance this year. We have two weekend series versus the Yankees (including a Memorial Day weekend series and a 4-game series) and Red Sox (including an Independence Day series and a Labor Day series), and an inter-league series versus the Dodgers. We also have a weekend series versus the Padres. That might not sound like much but I think the Padres will be a bigger draw than Arizona (2011) or Colorado (2010) – as the Pads are in-state and have a small NorCal fan base.

  16. Just one more thing on the Quakes, while they currently play outside San Jose’s city limits by a few dozen feet, they did play for a decade inside San Jose’s city limits and when they last did their colors were also blue and black then as well. So moving a few hundred yards back into San Jose when they’ve already been there is no reason to change the colors of the team.

  17. Still think the Quakes should kick it old-school NASL and bust out the red-and-black for games against the Timbers, Whitecaps and Sounders.

    As to the ManRam signing…

    …(shuffle feet)…

    …(examines fingernails)…

    …(looks to the horizon)…

    Really, Billy?

  18. they should have built the Quake’s field in Santa Clara….that soccer complex just north of the 49ers’ training facilities (and proposed new stadium) would be a perfect site and help to make the area a true entertainment/sports/hotel district (with the 49ers, great america, the planned debartolo-montana project, a golf course nearby)….

    looks like its a community park, so appeasing the soccer moms crying over “the children” will be tough though

  19. Bit of trivia my girlfriend tested me on: there is only 1 city in America where all the pro sports teams’ colors are coordinated (based off the city’s flag colors). Can you name it? without googling it?

  20. @Grady__Pittsburgh–all have yellow/gold and black–Hornets out to move there :)

  21. The roof on the Cisco Field renderings is one of my favorite parts of its design. Hopefully the adjustments 360 Architecture employs with the Quakes stadium will help hasten the appeal process with Cisco Field, granted they’re adaptable between the two designs.

  22. Bill, there’s no room on the site you mention, and the Quakes want to be in San Jose, not Santa Clara. Besides, putting the soccer stadium near the football stadium is a sure way for the Quakes to be overshadowed literally and figuratively by the Niners.

  23. Problem with having all those benefits, is that if the A’s do worse at the gate than last year they’ll look that much worse.

  24. great stadium. cant wait to go to some games there. this one will finally get built and i think cisco field will follow suit. i love the designs for both and LOVE the potential for both. this is great or quakes fans, good site, nice design, more seats as well as box seats and more revenue coming in for better players. lew wolff is getting the job done!! next step, CISCO FIELD BABY!!!

  25. ML i have a question. what i the exact location of the proposed earthquakes stadium so that i can look it up on google maps? BTW. its a joke that someone would complain about noise level for a sports stadium. theres nothing wrong with the noise IMO not to mention that fact that the loudest noise would only be 2-3 times on avg a game for probably only a minute at the most. not to mention the games will be over by ten which is not very late. i think people shouldnt complain about a sports stadium (especially in this area which is already loud) but they could complain if theres going to be an outdoor concert area then that is a noise someone could complain about but honestly a 15000 seat soccer stadium should not be a problem at all. anyway i’d like to know the exact location/address of the site

  26. AH nevermind i just read an article and have all my questions regarding the earthquakes stadium situation answered. thanks

  27. NO to teal…. blechhhh

  28. I wonder if the Quakes calling it a “stadium” is contributing to the local residents’ anxiety. Meanwhile, the A’s proposal is double the size and simply called a ballpark.

    • I wonder if the Quakes calling it a “stadium” is contributing to the local residents’ anxiety. Meanwhile, the A’s proposal is double the size and simply called a ballpark.

      Perhaps. I hope it isn’t called “stadium” and people stop calling it a stadium. None of the Soccer Specific Stadiums in the US are called “stadium.” If you look at the parks in England, they are called Cottages (Craven Cottage), Roads (Loftus Road), Lanes (White Hart Lane), Bridges (Stamford Bridge) and Parks. There are some creative ones like “Old Trafford”, “The Den” and “The Valley.” I think the ______ Epicenter would be more than suffice.

  29. OT: Red Sox, Cubs resolve Epstein compensation dispute without Selig needing to issue a ruling. Why is this relevant? It shows how Selig likes to proceed. I’m sure he’d love the Giants and the A’s to issue a joint statement after he sets the approxmiate parameters.

  30. I doubt it’s the “stadium” that is getting them riled up. Any venue of this type would have garnered the same response. The A’s ballpark will garner similar if not worse opposition when it finally comes to the permitting phase. Hell a high school stadium would have garnered similar responses. The only reason these people haven’t complained until now about say Schott Stadium which also backs up to their neighborhood was the fact it was in another city and there was little they could do about it (let that be a lesson to anyone who wants to buy a house right near a city/state/county/country border). But if they could have I’m sure they would have tried to block the SCU baseball park as well in a similar fashion. Lucky for SCU that arbitrary line exists on the map.

  31. re: Hell a high school stadium would have garnered similar responses.
    …Don’t forget how just a couple years ago, San Jose City College started construction of a new ballfield for the college team, even spending $1 million on it. Then, the college backed down after some neighbors complained and pulled the plug on the whole project. They were going to use the land for :”neighbor friendly” sports like cricket, instead. Cricket over baseball. OK.

  32. Surprising Ann Killion even acknowledges the possibility of the A’s in San Jose. Wasn’t she one of a number of local journalist that believed there was no way the A’s would be allowed to move to the South Bay?

  33. pjk
    February 22, 2012 at 4:45 PM (Quote)

    “re: Hell a high school stadium would have garnered similar responses.
    …Don’t forget how just a couple years ago, San Jose City College started construction of a new ballfield for the college team, even spending $1 million on it. Then, the college backed down after some neighbors complained and pulled the plug on the whole project. They were going to use the land for :”neighbor friendly” sports like cricket, instead. Cricket over baseball. OK.”

    At least mention the 90′ poles with netting that was the main issue on that project. I’d have bitched and fought it too. Look at the poles/nets on Rancho Del Pueblo, the 9 hole golf course just east of 101 near 680/280. That’s what they were installing…just imagine living next to those.

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