San Jose Sharks president Jonathan Becher took his case to city council yesterday.
The executive made a surprise appearance at the city of San Jose’s study session of Google’s Downtown West mixed-use plan, three hours and 18 minutes in, speaking at its open forum. Becher used his full minute to re-iterate that the San Jose Sharks support Google’s development, outlined their “largest concern,” and that they “don’t want to leave”:
“For 30 years, the SAP Center has helped the city of San Jose grow up around us. We’ve invested more than $200 million into the city-owned arena and we’ve contributed more than $250 million per year into the local economy.
“We want to make sure everyone knows on the council, conceptually, we’re supportive of downtown re-development and increased use of public transportation. It’s good for San Jose and could be good for us.
“But we’re very much worried about the reductions of the street network, especially Santa Clara and Autumn streets, going from four car lanes down to two. That is our largest concern, especially for those all around the arena who use SAP Center but can’t take advantage of public transportation now or any point in the future.
“Constituents in many of your districts in San Jose — Morgan Hill, Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, Central Valley.
“We’re also for a better integration between all these projects. Construction management has to come sooner. Not some place later in the future.
“We don’t want to leave. Don’t force us out.”
There isn’t agreement, however, on what to do about the Sharks’ “largest concern”.
“There are still hurdles in regards to the Sharks, one of the major community partners we have in the area. Been the destination for this area, around Diridon Station, for a quarter-century. They’re a partner we want to be able to work with,” Raul Peralez, San Jose City Council member, said at the study session. “At the same time, it’s certainly my interest that we continue to grow in a way that does not cater around the vehicle. But obviously, that brings a lot of anxiety to our partners at the Sharks, just given the nature of how they run their business. We’ll have dive more into that.”
That appears to be the most difficult hurdle for the Sharks and the city of San Jose to clear. In principle, most people agree on the environmental benefits of having less cars on the road. But what if there isn’t enough public transportation from surrounding areas to SAP Center?
“We will work to make sure, particularly for the Sharks, but for all development,” Office of Economic Development director Nanci Klein offered, “that we address people getting in and out of their places of business or in and out of SAP Center.”
If the street network question is resolved, we’ll see if the San Jose Sharks are satisfied. The Sharks have also highlighted future parking and the city of San Jose’s general project management as other concerns.
On Friday, San Jose Hockey Now spoke with a Google spokesperson, who tried to allay questions about parking around SAP Center. The city of San Jose has also said on multiple occasions that they will honor their current parking agreement with the Sharks.
And if the Sharks, the city of San Jose, and Google manage to work everything out, keeping the team, per their lease agreement, from vacating SAP Center between 2025 to 2040?
“We want to ensure that we can negotiate an extension of the SAP arena agreement with the Sharks,” Klein said, “to extend beyond 2040.”