SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Representatives from the San Jose Sharks informed fans Thursday morning that development projects planned for the city’s downtown could force the team out of the SAP Center.
Fans and supporters received a detailed email from the professional hockey team early Thursday saying that the city was ignoring their concerns and if nothing changes, the team could leave San Jose.
“For more than a year, we have been sharing our concerns with you regarding the proposed, massive development projects within the Diridon area of downtown San Jose, which surrounds SAP Center,” the email read. “For the past several years, we have been sharing those same concerns with city of San Jose officials and Google. Unfortunately, those discussions have yielded limited results.”
The email comes as Google inches closer to starting its Downtown West project, an 80-acre development that Scott Knies of the San Jose Downtown Association described as a “city within a city.” The project includes 7 million sq ft of office space, 4,000 sq ft of high-rise housing and 1,000 units of below-market-rate housing, all to be built around Caltrain’s Diridon Station.
The city released a Downtown West Mixed-Use Plan Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) last month, which laid out the impact of the Google development and included potential areas for other developers to build around the tech company’s ambitious project.
“The Diridon Station Area Plan, as currently planned by the city of San Jose, would add additional development in an area two times as large as the footprint of Google’s planned Downtown West project,” the Sharks’ email said.
The Sharks’ issue is that despite Google’s development centering around a public transportation hub, the majority of local residents — an estimated 60% — will still be driving cars. Yet the city also plans to decrease capacity on its streets for vehicles; most notably, the city proposes reducing streets around SAP Center, including Santa Clara Street, to reduce lanes from four to two.
“These changes will severely limit access for downtown employees, transit riders and SAP Center guests intending to reach the Diridon area by automobile. Most will have few, if any, other transportation options to reach the area for the foreseeable future,” the Sharks’ email read.
The team is also concerned about issues created by constant construction and parking, as the Google project does not include enough spots to serve all the employees it expects to house.
“Without an adequate supply of parking for the tens of thousands of additional cars coming to the area, the streets surrounding SAP Center are likely to be hopelessly gridlocked,” the Sharks said.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo denied that the pending developments would affect the SAP Center as much as the San Jose Sharks say.
“I am absolutely certain that nothing about our community’s long-standing ambitions for transit and urban development in Downtown West will threaten the Sharks’ treasured tenure here,” Liccardo told the San Jose Mercury News. “These projects will bring thousands of BART riders, new residents, workers, and fans to the Sharks’ front door — a windfall for any professional sports franchise.”
Google representatives said they’ve been working with the team on the project and said it would continue to do so.
Still, the team is calling on its fans to speak out against these issues in the DSAP online or at city meetings, such as the San Jose City Council meeting planned for Nov. 16 on the DSAP.
“For nearly 30 years, SAP Center has served as the city of San Jose’s community arena, hosting a wide-ranging line-up of diverse sporting and entertainment events. It is imperative that the city of San Jose protect the arena and that these massive development projects are planned and implemented so that the City-owned arena can continue to operate as one of the largest contributors to the economy of downtown San Jose,” the team stated. “Without this support, the arena simply cannot survive.”