Quakes deal near, BART to SJ gets money

According to a SI.com report, SJSU and Lew Wolff are “as few as two weeks” from striking up an exclusivity agreement on a new stadium for the Spartans and Earthquakes 3.o. The key negotiating point is the size of the stadium: Spartan football backers want the venue to hold 30,000, while 23,000 is more comfortable for a MLS team. That may sound like a large gap, but it needn’t be. The use of a stage at one end with portable seats (a la Gillette Stadium) could allow 2,500+ seats to be moved in and out. An open design could allow for lots of portable seating to be used in each end zone. I’d like to see the first 10-12 rows have a variable riser height, a feature seen only in recently built indoor arenas such as Staples Center and Portland’s Rose Garden. That would ensure that for football games fans would be raised above the sideline, whereas for soccer games fans would be closer to the field. It’s not a feature I’ve ever seen at an outdoor stadium.

The state released $364 million in funding for the BART-to-San Jose project. The money will allow VTA to be reimbursed for some previously done design work, while also funding further design work to the 65% stage. This should allow VTA to finalize placement of future BART stations and route alignment. The new SEIR, released earlier this week, drops two stations along Santa Clara Street in San Jose in favor of a single downtown station. Many of the changes prescribed in the SEIR are in a similar cost-cutting vein while actually bumping up the previously specious ridership estimates for the extension.

This money received from the state doesn’t make the extension more or less likely. There’s still a significant financial hurdle to overcome that can only be addressed by federal matching funds (previously rejected) or a tax hike (also previously rejected). Should funding come, service on the extension would begin in… 2016. The separate Warm Springs extension would commence service in 2013.

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