In a move tangentially related to San Jose’s downtown ballpark pursuit, the City Council allowed city staff and the Sharks’ owners, Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment, to enter negotiations on a deal that would put a soccer stadium immediately south of the Diridon South ballpark site. This was done through a closed session, which is becoming an increasingly routine part of the City’s modus operandi. It doesn’t reflect the spirit of open government that the R2D2-like City Hall rotunda represents.
The land isn’t part of the ballpark site, and it also happens to be city-owned, so there are no acquisition issues. As you can see from the graphic above, the soccer stadium site (in blue) is much smaller than the ballpark site. A 25,000-seat soccer stadium requires a smaller footprint than a ballpark due to the smaller field and less buildout. At roughly 5 acres in size, the lot is not the best shape for a 75 yd. x 115 yd. soccer field and grandstand, but the stadium could be wedged in without too much difficulty. The grove of trees that cuts diagonally across the block marks Los Gatos Creek.
The wedge-shaped lot currently holds a San Jose Fire Department training facility, which would have to be relocated. The lot was originally set aside for a future park, and it unclear if any land will be available to replace it. The immediate neighborhood lacks a large park area, though the newly developed Cahill Park near Diridon Station is nearby.
Parking is a concern, since the site is somewhat removed from the Arena and all of its parking. Should someone want to invest the money, it may be possible to have parking underneath the stadium, as was done in small scale at St. John’s University in New York and at Amsterdam Arena in the Netherlands.
So after reading all of this, you’re probably asking what all of this has to do with the A’s. Well, it really comes down to a vote. Building any kind of stadium on the site, even if it’s privately funded, will require a vote in San Jose. If this project gets fast-tracked, it could very well end up on the November 2006 ballot, where it will sit alongside a ballpark measure. The substance of a ballpark measure is not known, so it’s difficult to speculate on how it would be pitched. Putting both measures side-by-side might cause confusion and even create a situation where one measure takes votes from another, so there’s a possibility that both will be put together into a single ballot item. Since there are different players in each project, it could make for some interesting dealmaking. The county may be involved to some degree in the soccer stadium.
Another soccer stadium site under discussion was the block defined by 4th, 5th, and Santa Clara Streets. That site isn’t big enough for a soccer field, let alone a stadium.