Sharks Fighting to Remain at SAP Center

Earlier this week, Sharks Sports and Entertainment (SSE) sent out an email with the subject line reading “We Need Your Help to Protect SAP Center.” The email was sent out to fans in an attempt to draw more attention to the impact that Google’s Downtown West project will have on the SAP Center and the San Jose Sharks organization. The main points listed in the email are a drastic increase in traffic in the Diridon area. To add to this, Santa Clara Street, which runs in front of SAP Center, would be reduced from four lanes to two when headed in either direction — further adding to traffic concerns in the area.

San Jose Sharks' Marc-Edouard Vlasic Timo Meier Brent Burns
San Jose Sharks’ Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Timo Meier and Brent Burns celebrate a goal by Meier. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

SSE had previously agreed to the City of San Jose granting an option to Google that would allow them to purchase the A, B, and C parking lots — the three prominent parking locations at SAP Center. The agreement was made with the idea that the Arena Management Agreement was still upheld regarding SSE’s rights.

All Problems Have Some Solutions

The Sharks’ organization has since rescinded their consent for the sale of the lots as they have yet to reach an agreement with the city and Google. SSE has also shared their suggested revisions that were previously submitted to both parties.

Bob Boughner Mike Ricci San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks interim coach Bob Boughner, and assistant coach Mike Ricci (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Per the email, also posted online here:

  1. Respect all City commitments in the Arena Management Agreement, and remove parking lots A, B, and C from the Downtown West project until Google and the City propose a comprehensive plan to protect the arena.
  2. Maintain current street lanes and capacity in the Diridon area to avoid traffic gridlock during ingress and egress for arena events and require Google to pay for all new traffic operation expenses that the Google project creates.
  3. Provide 4,800 shared parking spaces as a minimum (not a maximum) requirement and build the long-promised parking facilities just north of the arena.
  4. Establish a construction impact management plan, with performance standards, in coordination with SSE to protect the arena and its patrons.
  5. Ensure the City retains the authority to properly protect arena operations as a condition of future permits for the buildout of the Google project or for events that draw large crowds to the Diridon area.

Sharks Want to Stick Around

The City of San Jose and SSE have been working together to further development in the area since 2018. However, SSE sees current plans as having a devastating impact on arena operations.

In November 2019, SSE and the Sharks were adamant that they wished to remain at SAP Center and had no intention to relocate. The email, sent April 25 of this year, seems to reaffirm that sentiment. In 2018, SSE signed a lease extension with the City of San Jose for the SAP Center that runs through 2025. While the organization may prefer not to relocate, it may come to that point should a compromise fail to be reached. The team filed for legal action in 2018 over concerns regarding the Diridon BART extension; the motion for judgment was denied in August of 2020.

What the Timelines Look Like

The Downtown West project was initially slated for discussion at the end of 2020, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The city reviewed this project on Wednesday, April 28, but concerned fans and locals can still share their thoughts with the San Jose City Council members.

The Diridon Station BART extension received environmental clearance in June 2018. Currently, the project is in the design and engineering stage, with the hope of construction beginning in 2022. Construction is expected to continue through to 2028, with testing from 2028-2030. The extension is planned to be one of three underground extensions in Silicon Valley.

San Jose Sharks players celebrate after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7
San Jose Sharks players celebrate (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

With parking and traffic being major concerns of both the Sharks organization and many fans, some hope more people turn to public transit or alternative forms of transportation. Perhaps once the Diridon BART extension is up and running, that will be the case. Unfortunately, a reliance on public transit poses complications for hockey fans traveling to the arena from outside the San Jose/Santa Clara area.

City officials seem to be confident that the Downtown West project will continue on as planned. However, if this venture comes at the price of the Sharks, is it worth it? San Jose is facing a possible nine or more years of construction in the area near SAP Center and runs the risk of losing a professional sports franchise that doesn’t even want to leave. While the team has struggled for the last couple of years, nobody wants to see the organization move.

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