Creating a temporary stadium blueprint

Lost in all the owners’ meetings, MVP awards and other sports news was a little story out of Sacramento. It involves a stadium for a second-tier soccer team – that will be built in five months.

That’s right, five months. And it was only announced today. The stadium will have a capacity of 8,000 and be constructed on a parking lot at Cal Expo for the Sacramento Republic soccer club. The Republic is aiming to become a future expansion team in MLS. By building this 8,000-seat facility (nearly the size of Buck Shaw Stadium), the hope is that MLS will be impressed enough to grant the franchise’s “promotion”, leading to a deal for a larger MLS stadium in a few years. The neat trick to the deal is that the club is partnering with Cal Expo’s concessionaire to build the stadium, a potential win-win for both parties.

8,000-seat soccer-specific stadium at Cal Expo

8,000-seat soccer-specific stadium concept at Cal Expo

How could all of this come together in only five months? The stadium is considered temporary. When we envision stadium projects, we usually see the dark side of environmental review because these structures are meant to last for 30-40 years or longer. However, if you build a temporary facility, you can largely sidestep CEQA law. After all, the point of CEQA is to understand and mitigate against long-term environmental impacts, so if you can prove that your project won’t have a huge impact, you may be able to get a CEQA exception. One of those exceptions is for temporary or seasonal structures. They’re planning to put in the stadium, which will only be used 15-20 times per year during a 6-7 month window, and take it apart when the new stadium is ready. Project proponents can argue that there’s little impact since the stadium site is already a parking lot. Stretching the definition of temporary to nine years in this case is a little suspect, but there isn’t a hard and fast definition to use. Here’s what the law says:

15304. Minor Alterations to Land

(e) Minor temporary use of land having negligible or no permanent effects on the environment, including carnivals, sales of Christmas trees, etc;

Similar exceptions are available for additions to existing structures, such as the musical chairs situation I described last month. It would involve temporary additions to Raley Field and San Jose Municipal Stadium. A tougher case could even be made for a larger, 20,000-seat ballpark in San Jose. Let’s say that there’s some currently undeveloped or underutilized but properly entitled land somewhere within San Jose city limits. It could be publicly or privately owned. If the A’s struck a deal with the landowner, they could get permitted to build a temporary ballpark on that land. Sites could include the Airport West site near the Earthquakes stadium (though we’ve seen the difficulty building there), the County Fairgrounds, or other privately owned land. There are even sites near downtown.

That said, we’re at a late enough stage that it’s practically impossible to pull off a temporary new ballpark in time for the 2014 season. Expanding Raley would make more sense in that timeframe. As transient the whole thing sounds, it’s definitely a path of relatively little bureaucratic resistance as long as you get willing partners. Since it wouldn’t involve public money, a referendum wouldn’t be required.

32 thoughts on “Creating a temporary stadium blueprint

  1. Actually, the City of Oakland had at one time one of the best blueprints for a temporary stadium. For four seasons, between the years 1962 thru 1965, Frank Youell Field was constructed and in operation specifically as a temporary home for the Oakland Raiders while the Coliseum was being built. It was located on what is now a parking lot for Laney College, and had a seating capacity of approximately 22,000. Although, most likely not feasible today, the site of the former temporary home of the Raiders could have been an ideal Oakland locale for a new A’s ballpark.

  2. Wouldn’t a temporary stadium in San Jose or retrofitting San Jose Muni still be infringing on Giants Territory?

  3. Robo, retrofitting Muni isn’t happening. Everyone needs to get that idea out of their head. The stadium doesn’t even meet CAL League standards anymore and in no way can be expanded to host MLB. There’s neither the stadium, nor surrounding infrastructure to do that.

    But a temp stadium could work, but as with the permanent Cisco Field the Giants territorial rights would have to be dealt with.

  4. The only retrofitting at SJ Muni will be so it’s not so bad for the Rivercats when they play there next year, amiright? 😉

    Speaking of, where are the negotiations for SJ Muni/Giants at right now? Aren’t they up at the end of the year too?

  5. 15304. Minor Alterations to Land

    (e) Minor temporary use of land having negligible or no permanent effects on the environment, including carnivals, sales of Christmas trees, 162 A’s games before losing in Game 5 of the ALDS, etc;

  6. 81.. you know what i mean.

  7. @Robo – Yes. That’s beside the point.

  8. How about a temp stadium at Pacific Commons or Warm Springs? 😉

  9. Tony that ship has sailed. Wolff is selling the property and the big box stores would likely still object as they did 6 years ago.

  10. The A’s should jump on the Make-a-Wish event today in San Francisco to move into “Gotham City.”

  11. Nah if they want to get creative they should take a page out of Atlanta’s book and screw the Raiders out of a site at the same time. Time to call up Dublin and/or Pleasanton and build out near the 580/680 interchange. Hell there’s enough room out there to throw up a temp stadium and parking lot to use for a few years while building a nice new ballpark, then level the temp venue and build a ballpark village next to Cisco Field east.

  12. BatKid crushes The League of Giants and the evil Ra’s Al Baer! The A’s are free!

  13. He should have freed the Blue Ribbon Commission that’s been imprisoned in the 3rd and King Asylum lo these many years.

  14. These aren’t the territorial rights you deserve, but the ones you need.

  15. @RM,
    Reading your above thread again, you do realize your last sentence can also apply to a permanent Cisco Field in SJ (as currently envisioned as a privately financed venue). Pretty cool..

    • @Tony D – When the City Council passes a resolution in support of that, I’ll give it credence. Until then, as you were.

  16. I long thought Dublin would have been a great spot, but that ship has sailed, as the Military base is going through final transfer to the city, and the environmental documents are being finalized with a developer for housing and commercial. That is the last remaining piece of land in the tri valley. With 2 Bart stops, freeway access, and good weather, I thought it would have been better than Fremont.

  17. Is the stadium gonna be right next to Cal Expo’s 9/11 memorial site?

  18. why would you want to be in the tri-valley

  19. Why would you want to be in tri valley? Money, money, money, weather, Bart, freeway access. San Ramon, Pleasanton, Danville, Dublin, even walnut creek all have high income people within close proximatey

  20. @RM,
    Just speaking to how muni code is now written (and interpreted) re when a vote is needed for venues +5,000 seats. I guess the city council could also pass a resolution calling for world peace before any ballpark happens in San Jose, but why? Why on earth does my town apparently want to make this thing harder than it should be?
    I’m also intrigued by the possibility of a Tri-Valley ballpark if San Jose (or Fremont) can’t happen. BART, 580/680 access, weather and MONEY (disposable income of area residents). Your NorCal Athletics of Dublin?

  21. Coliseum city is not over tony d.
    If the Raiders get a new stadium and the warriors are still waiting. ..malik and colony could be those billionares willing to help with all 3 teams to stay in Oakland

  22. @Marine Layer. At Cal Expo, they have a makeshift memorial for 9/11 with a sphere and two pillars from the WTC steel at Cal Expo. The stadium is not far away from the site of Cal Expo’s 9/11 memorial.

  23. @OM86,
    If Malik and colony are willing to provide billions in charity to Oakland, you might be right…

  24. Trivalley is also probably the highest concentration of NIMBYs in the bay area, which is why they moved there in the first place.

  25. Sorry if my tone came off rude..again Oakland should not be in the position of begging to begin with….I’m just saying, Oakland MIGHT have a billionare on their side and untill that option is gone…it does give Coliseum City a chance. .san jose or not.

  26. @YY,
    I believe Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton (PAMPA) holds the Bay Area NIMBY title…(sorry Tri-Valley)

  27. Selig and MLB could be in more trouble: MLB interferred with an investigation into Biogenesis, and bought documents that could have implicated Tony Bosch – even though they were warned not to. This could damage Selig and MLB’s credibility even more!

  28. If Oakland had a charitable billionaire on its side ready to save the day, we’d have already heard from him. Who has come forward, checkbook in hand, ready to buy the A’s and privately fund a new ballpark in Oakland? Nobody

  29. @ TonyD. – PAMPA may have more per capita NIMBY’s, but the Tri-Valley has PAMPA beat in pure NIMBY numbers. The only thing the Tri-Valley lacks is the $Texas that the PAMPA folks have.

  30. Based the latest developments with the Braves it seems “permanent” stadiums may be considered temporary.

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