Earthquakes get final approval for soccer-specific stadium

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photo by Michael Pimentel/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

It may have taken longer than they would have liked, but the San Jose Earthquakes will finally be getting a soccer-specific stadium to call their own.

At a public hearing inside a packed San Jose City Hall's council chamber late on Wednesday night, the San Jose Planning Commission voted 6-0 to deny an appeal against the construction of a soccer-specific stadium. The appeal was filed late last month by neighbors of the area who cited noise and light pollution as part of the reason they wanted to postpone the project's construction.

The unanimous decision, which came after three hours of testimony and resulted in loud cheers from the 300-plus Earthquakes fans in attendance, was the final approval the club needed in order to build the $60 million, 18,000-seat stadium.

"Tonight's decision to uphold the Planned Development Permit that we received in December is a milestone not just for the San Jose Earthquakes but all Bay Area soccer fans," said Earthquakes president Dave Kaval in a statement. "Our club and its stakeholders have worked hard through this process and we feel that we have a great plan for our new stadium."

Earthquakes fans packed the chamber and some had to wait outside as community members and stakeholders spoke in favor of and against the appeal. The majority of the those who spoke were for the idea of having the stadium built.

Some of the more notable representatives to speak on the Earthquakes' behalf were club owner Lew Wolff and MLS president Mark Abbott.

In the end, the commission voted against the appeal in part because of the Earthquakes' willingness to accomodate to some of the neighbors' fears. The club had agreed to not hold any concerts at the stadium, which is to be built next to Mineta San Jose International Airport.

The next step for Earthquakes officials is to determine when they can break ground on the proposed stadium. Construction would have possibly already begun, but the appeal delayed the process.

"Looking ahead, our club will now begin the work of finalizing the stadium design and financing plan," said Kaval. "The goal is to put shovels in the ground this year."

The stadium, which some expect to be completed in time for the 2013 season, will be the 14th soccer-specific one in MLS. It has already generated over $3.5 million in revenue with the sales of 10 of the 12 unique field-level luxury suites it will have, according to the club.

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What do you think of San Jose getting the green light for their soccer-specific stadium? Expecting the stadium to be ready in time for the 2013 season? it Which team are you hoping is next to get a SSS?

Share your thoughts below.

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65 Responses to Earthquakes get final approval for soccer-specific stadium

  1. JP says:

    DC has got to be next.

  2. Kejsare says:

    No longer an MLS baker’s dozen. Only one team with a long-term negative lease left.

  3. pillow pants says:

    Nope. Chuck Testa

  4. CRR says:

    Congrats Earthquake fans!

  5. abc says:

    MLS teams that need stadiums:

    ASAP:
    DC
    New England

    Someday:
    20th team (in New York City will be tough)
    Columbus
    Colorado
    Dallas

    Eventually:
    Vancouver
    Chivas

  6. blaise213 says:

    Too bad the stadium design sucks badly. With all the fortune 500 companies in that area, it would be wise to sell a % of the team and partner up to bring in a world class stadium

    another MLS fail

  7. vik says:

    It would be nice to have a top class facility; but the proposed designs are infinitely better than renting out SCU’s stadium.
    Stanford’s stadium is much nicer, but again, you want a SSS that can be a true home for your team. To this end, the proposed stadium is fine.

  8. blaise213 says:

    A smarter move would be to partner with yahoo, google, apple, facebook. oracle, ebay, salesforce, etc…….. and build a 25,000 seat stadium, Do you have any idea how many employees work for those companies and would attend the games ?????

  9. ryan says:

    The stadium is not even a complete bowl. They could easily increase capacity to 25k once demand is adequate. Makes no sense to build it, if they will not come.

  10. Gardner says:

    Ryan, as a Union season ticket holder and SOB at that, I would rather start small. When we have PPL at 19000+ at 18500 official capacity and it is officially pandemonium with room for expansion.

  11. Brian says:

    Who says any of them want to partner with the Earthquakes? Luxury boxes is one thing, buying a percentage of team and helping bankroll their stadium is a whole ‘nother thing.

  12. Supsam says:

    How cute. You make it sound so easy to build a world class stadium. You make it sound like the quakes FO had no clue what companies resided in their own area. Commenter fail.

  13. northzax says:

    almost none of them, unless you actually put the stadium at their company headquarters. The San Jose Googlers would probably sell out, or the East Palo Alto Facebookers, but you wouldn’t have much cross appeal.

    and by the way, with a few exceptions, people don’t go to stadiums, they go to watch teams. build a team that will fill the stadium and go from there.

  14. strider says:

    I think you may be confused. Columbus has the original SSS, Colorado’s just opened a few years ago, and Dallas has had one for quite some time. The only teams that do not have a SSS or one on the way (SJ & Houston) are Chivas, Vancouver, and Seattle. Of course, it does not look like Seattle want to leave Century-Link Fld even though they are on plastic.

  15. Seriously says:

    You missed a few yourself. DCU and NE don’t have SSS or one on the way either.

  16. Seriously says:

    That was his point.

  17. YO says:

    lots of money for only 18k stadium!

  18. Brett says:

    Soccer Specific Stadium = euphemism for “small, minor-league stadium”

  19. Steve C says:

    Congrats to Earthquakes fans!

    Odd that the neighbors would complain about noise pollution when it’s being built next to an airport.

  20. RK says:

    People that live near an airport are worried about noise?

  21. Drew says:

    “Brett” = euphemism for moron

  22. RK says:

    Seems cheap to me — $120MM for Philly’s.

  23. RK says:

    Gee, why didn’t San Jose think of that within the last 15 years? It sounds so simple!

  24. dub says:

    Call it the Failodrome.

  25. BB says:

    will this be near a mass transit station?

  26. BamaMan says:

    It is awesome that MLS is adding another quality soccer-specific stadium and I’m also glad that San Jose is doing it for a decent price.

    However, I seriously question the “luxury boxes on field level” idea. In Alabama, Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile tried to do the same thing for a minor league baseball franchise and the results were less than desired. Basically, it results in worse sightlines both for the folks in ground level luxury suites as well as the rest of the fans. Ground level seats are awesome in basketball because the field of play is tiny and the goal is ten feet in the air, therefore always visible. Soccer, like baseball or football, doesn’t work that way.

    Then again, they’ve already made a mint selling the seats so someone clearly likes the idea.

  27. chris says:

    Might as well play at stanford stadium instead of wasteing money on a stadium thats gonna hurt you in the long run.

  28. pc says:

    How do people complain about noise and light pollution in a stadium built next to an airport?

  29. RK says:

    And now I know why — I just caught a glimpse of the renderings.

  30. sciroccer says:

    I’m happy for the Quakes! After fighting thru the stadium issues in Salt Lake, I know that feeling of finally getting it! It’s a good day for the Quakes and the MLS! Way to go! Congrad’s!

  31. Where says:

    The funny part is I have been to that airport before and it bright as F&$@ they just finished renovating it and the have a lot blue fluorescent spot lights on the buildings and terminals. People there are f-ing weird.

  32. RK says:

    It can work for baseball, as you are close to the action and can follow the action a bit easier. But for chaotic sports like football or soccer, where you want to be able to see formations and who is running where, it doens’t work.

  33. sciroccer says:

    I think you should recheck your list? But I would agree that Columbus, and Toronto don’t look like stadiums, more like bleachers at a High School. Portland, and DC just look like minor league teams playing in baseball parks.

  34. BostonTim says:

    Lew Wolff must be happy, but annoyed because he can’t get a stadium approved for the A’s.

  35. joel says:

    awesome…congrats earthquakes…great for them and mls!

  36. jayboy says:

    As a split DC/NE fan, I’m just going to cry silently in the corner.

  37. Modibo says:

    Oh, you must mean Baltimore, right?

    Goff reported some movement in the DC government as a result of a budget surplus, but I don’t think anyone’s holding their breath. They’re in RFK for another two years and still casting around for a permanent – er, new – home.

  38. sammysounder74 says:

    Seattle has a soccer SPECIFIC stadium. It does not have a soccer ONLY stadium.

  39. Yusef says:

    Getting the entitlements is a big hurdle, but I would not expect a construction start this year if they are still working through the finance plan and design issues.

  40. WK says:

    You write as if you’ve been up for 3 days sniffing glue. We’re talking about a new stadium, btw. And of course we’re weird- it’s California.

    There has been much gnashing of teeth by some over the smaller size, but as someone pointed out plenty of room to add seats later after demand and revenue goes up. But first things first- have to get back to winning ways and this news combined with the Quakes strong off-season has likely given us just the momentum we needed.

  41. Ron in SJ says:

    YES!!!

  42. Breve says:

    Not far

  43. beachbum says:

    YES!!!

  44. Lt. Obvious says:

    DC’s looks horrible, but that is because RFK is a dump.. but Portland actually looks pretty nice, especially when it sells out

  45. WileyJ says:

    Sorry bro ,no we don’t. In a SSS, seating is lower to the field,what we have is a multi- purpose facility.

  46. dan says:

    SJ owners and fans: Well done!!

    blaise213: I like the way you congratulate the SJ approval for their stadium…. jeeez. A simple congrats would suffice. There is a time to give criticism…. this was not one of those times. Enjoying the victories of others and soccer as a whole, should be celebrated!

  47. Jya says:

    They will come if the stadium itself is a draw. No one went to see the Giants in Candelstick but people go now because the stadium alone makes the experience worth it. The new earthquakes stadium looks pretty bland and boring I wish the architect would have added a little creativity. Doesn’t have to be a full bowl with a large capacity but some originality should be given for new stadiums.

  48. Jya says:

    Unfortunately there are NIMBY’s in every neighborhood now no matter how ridiculous there arguments are.

  49. Cairo says:

    I don’t get at all why people are criticizing the stadium design. It looks soccer specific with the roof, it’s a size that they should be able to sell out from the get go, and it’s very very easy to see how they can expand it by 4-6k when the time is right. It’s not far from downtown, it’s close to a major airport, and the CalTrain is not far away. What is the problem??

    Great win for the Quakes, and I can’t wait to see a game there (I’m a Sounders fan but with NorCal roots)

  50. bryan says:

    Revs will move to Baltimore before DC.

  51. bryan says:

    yeah, portland’s looks great. as a DC fan, i have a love/hate relationship with RFK. the pitch is really nice at least. and we don’t have to share it.

  52. bryan says:

    i agree, it does seem weird the stadium doesn’t just go all the way around. was there a reason for this?

    congrats either way!

  53. Where says:

    Dude I’m from California. It was 5am and I was just dropping a Duece when I read this. I was talking about the airport being renovated, not the stadium. Btw is the state in the union, we set the bar for all of the other states. Don’t hate.

  54. DCLee says:

    +1 There are plenty of stadiums in Europe and in the states that are nice and get the job done. We all can’t get the 250 mil stadium unfortunately but this one looks like it will be very nice and having a home of your own will make the fan experience special!! Happy for the Quakes! Congrats!!!

  55. josh says:

    That was to the Googlers and Facebookers. Not your more serious point.

  56. Edwin in LA says:

    Pretty sure Portland’s Jeld-Wen Field is not a Soccer-SPECIFIC Stadium…

    But to clarify that point even further and touching up on what abc probably meant, The “Someday:” category refers to teams that either need an upgrade to a more modern and profitable stadium with proper amenities as well as luxury suites and maybe bigger capacity but more important better design for the game of Soccer and the most important one A BETTER LOCATION….FC Dallas might have a completely different story if they ever move out of Frisco….which might not happen for 10 years?

    Colorado is also a bit far from the actual city of Denver, CO and it should be completely enclosed with a 2ndary level of suites to create more noise and bigger crowds capability of 22K+ of course they have to get to that demand which is why abc was saying someday, right now Rapids are around 16-17K I see them getting to 20-22K in about 5 or 6 years maybe sooner and then maybe even expand Disck’s Sporting Goods Park by enclosing the one goal end with that weird combo of grass, stairs and some sort of porch looking thing with a tunnel for players, surely they can fit an extra 3-5K there…

  57. Edwin in LA says:

    You obviously have no idea how this sports franchise/stadium revenue system works…

    When you have your own stadium 1st you’re not paying rent to anyone, 2nd you control ALL aspects of revenue. Tickets sales, Parking, Food&Beverage Concession Stands, merchandise sold in the stadium etc etc.

    They do have a bit of a downside in that they can’t hold concerts there, but that in turn is only a downside to generating revenue by maximizing the # of events you host each year, but for the actual soccer team is super great news as we know there won’t be a constant wear&tear of the grass turf in hot summers or what not when they have concerts in between home games, see KC last year after having a ton of back2back home games PLUS concerts the grass wouldn’t hold up and thus it looked pretty bad on tv

    Plus naming rights come into question, there’s a good chance they can get a miniscule amount compared to NBA, NFL, NHL & MLB stadium naming deals, but at 60 million a 10-20 million deal pays for about 16.7-33% of the cost of the stadium?

  58. Edwin in LA says:

    They’re pretty much done, is just that it took for ever and once they had gotten everything in order the neighbors came crying and delayed it further for 3-4 months.

    I think the only reason why the design wasn’t said to be done is because originally they taked about a 15,000 seat stadium with easy expansion to 18,500 not it looks like they are starting at 18,000-18,500 to begin with.

    They have all year to get this done, I think as long as they break ground some time in November they should be fine to start the 2013 season. Plus it’s a simple stadium so I don’t think it will take them all that long to build it

  59. MB says:

    Has anyone proposed tearing RFK down and building a new SSS right there? The only other thing they do there all year round is the Military Bowl….

  60. Matt says:

    I want a pony.

  61. theone says:

    Why would you leave The Link. It’s the best loacation for it. Freeways, the trolley, close to downton Seattle.

  62. Jya says:

    Good for you

  63. WeatherManNX01 says:

    Yes. People seem to have an affinity for an aging concrete hulk that does pretty much nothing outside of soccer to the point they won’t tear it down. Even when United finds a new home, it’ll just sit there.

    It happens all over – people attach a greater value to stadiums than they deserve. Unless there is something architecturally significant, there’s really no reason not to tear them down. If they’re old and empty, bring it on. There are photos and memories to keep the places alive.

    Really. You don’t see people doing that for abandoned factories or hotels or shopping malls. Those are “eyesores”. But stadiums? Apparently they have a life all their own.

  64. Rudi says:

    I thought the same thing. Also, what about advertising panels? If they’re put up, aren’t they in the way of the suites?