SAN JOSE – In an urgent request to fans for help, the San Jose Sharks said Thursday the team may have moved out of the city due to major developments in the downtown area near Diridon Station that threaten access and parking at the SAP Center City could be evicted team plays.
The sharks’ warning could put city officials on a tightrope walk as they attempt to balance the needs of the city’s high-profile sports team with their drive to dramatically revitalize the small downtown San Jose.
“We definitely don’t want to go,” said Jonathan Becher, president of Sharks Sports & Entertainment, in an interview. “This is our home. We want to be here. Leaving is the last resort. But it could come to that if the arena becomes unprofitable. “
Google plans a transit-oriented development of office buildings, houses, shops, restaurants, entertainment centers, cultural centers and parks near the train station and the SAP complex. Further development is planned for the areas adjacent to this project and the sharks are dealing with parking, traffic congestion and the impact of ongoing construction.
“For more than a year we have been sharing our concerns with you about the planned massive development projects in the Diridon area of downtown San Jose that surrounds the SAP Center,” the Sharks said in a letter to fans and supporters, urging them to contact city officials to express support for the team.
“Over the past few years, we’ve shared the same concern with officials from the City of San Jose and Google. Unfortunately, these discussions have yielded limited results, and the planners of these projects seem intent on moving forward in ways that could drive the sharks out of San Jose. “
Mayor Sam Liccardo tried to allay all worries.
“I’m absolutely certain that nothing about our community’s long-standing ambitions for transit and urban development in Downtown West will jeopardize the sharks’ cherished tenure here,” Liccardo told the news organization.
The Diridon train station, already a hub for Amtrak, the ACE train, Caltrain, the Capitol Corridor and the light rail, is also set to become a BART stop.
“These projects will bring thousands of BART drivers, new residents, workers and fans to the Sharks front door – a godsend for any professional sports franchise,” said Liccardo.
Liccardo said the city will minimize the impact of construction but added, “In every dynamic, revitalizing downtown area on the planet, the universal mantra is: Forgive the dust.”
Thanks to the new developments, 55,000 more workers could potentially appear in downtown San Jose. The city center now has enough office space for around 44,000 employees. At the same time, parts of West Santa Clara Street – including a section directly in front of the SAP Center – are losing their lanes.
With the expectation that employees will use local transit, Google plans to create just 2,850 parking spaces for the 25,000 Google employees in its development called Downtown West. The daily vehicle journeys in the Diridon station and in the SAP Center are now 19,200. The development projects nearby could result in these mushroom trips costing 136,600 day trips.
“It will be more difficult to get parking in downtown San Jose than it is in San Francisco,” said Becher.
In 2018, the Sharks filed separate lawsuits, one in the Santa Clara County Supreme Court and one in federal court, over concerns about lost parking and construction effects. The sharks lost the federal case but are appealing. Hearings are ongoing in the county case.
Mountain View-based Google said it worked with multiple parties and groups, including the Sharks, as the tech titan’s groundbreaking development proposal drives community control and the city review process.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Sharks and the city as the process progresses,” said a Google spokesman.
The sharks made it clear that Google is not the problem.
“It would be inappropriate to hold Google responsible for all of this,” said Becher. “The city has a delicate balancing act. BART, Caltrain, Google, and the sharks all need to be considered. “
The Sharks determined that due to the team’s agreement with San Jose, the city must ensure that 4,850 parking spaces are available within half a mile of SAP Center. However, Google has signed a contract to buy the large SAP Center parking lots from the city, which would provide part of the land for the development of Downtown West.
“The problem is the city’s inability to work with (the sharks) and come up with a win-win solution,” said Bob Staedler, a San Jose-based land use advisor.
The Haie noted that development could take place over 10 to 15 years and that several large construction projects could take place at the same time.
“There does not seem to be a plan that ensures that SAP Center customers can continue to access the arena securely and conveniently and that our neighbors can maintain their quality of life during this transformation phase,” said the Haie in an open letter.
The Haie urged fans to share their concerns with local elected officials ahead of a city council study session on Monday and a community meeting on December 3.
Still, the team’s executives made it clear that the sharks want to stay in San Jose for decades.
“We are so optimistic that we can sort that out,” said Becher. “We want this to be our home. We’re not interested in going anywhere. We might be forced to go elsewhere, but not because we want to go. “