06 December 2005

How baseball and soccer can co-exist in San Jose

I'll start off with the graphic. To help you with your bearings, south and I-280 are to the top. Downtown and CA-87 are to the left.

The ballpark is on the now familiar Diridon South site. Across Park Avenue is the fire training center, which is should be converted into a public park, perhaps with parking for some 600 cars underneath. The park could have a small playground and playing fields for soccer/football and baseball/softball. To top my wish list for the park, it should be named after the late Pat Tillman. I have to admit a bias regarding Tillman because though I didn't know him personally he was a contemporary of mine, but regardless it's hard to find a more fitting, interesting former San Jose resident for whom a park could be named than Tillman.

The soccer stadium is located on what is currently an equipment rental facility. The company owns several parcels spread among two blocks of Dupont and McEvoy Streets south of Park Ave. I've gone by there several times while checking out the Del Monte site, and I noticed that it's really underutilized. One parcel at the entry to the site is for sale. An office building in the middle of the facility is empty and has a for lease sign on it. There's a good amount of open space there. Neighbors include a couple of auto repair shops and a welding company. The area is rectangular in shape, and could accommodate a 22-25,000 seat soccer stadium with little trouble. If the street grid were realigned, a compact but spacious soccer stadium could work very well there. A partial roof would be required to help mitigate noise. Of course, there would be issues with acquiring the land and moving the equipment rental company, but that comes with the territory.

One small note: the PG&E substation has been realigned next to the ballpark (in grey). If this can be done (the amount of land is the same if not the shape), it would cut down on the potential costs associated with moving the substation.

I spoke at tonight City Council Open Forum about this site. We'll see if, like my suggestion to Oakland about the Broadway Auto Row site, anything comes of it.

SJ City Council meeting tonight

Numerous San Jose Earthquakes fans are expected to attend tonight's San Jose City Council session. Towards the end of the proceedings will be an open hearing, when Quakes proponents will make their desire to keep the team in town loud and clear. Today, reports emerged that the fire training was too small to hold a stadium, and I'm sad to say there's a lot of truth to this.

I visited the fire training site over the weekend, and yes, it is small. I was able to get a couple of mockups going that got stadium capacity to the 16-17,500 range, but that's too small for a SSS (soccer-specific stadium) these days. The preferred capacity for a SSS is 20-25,000, with some 20-30 suites, a stage at one end for concerts, and amenities one would typically find at a new ballpark or football stadium such as club seats and wide concourses.

It wouldn't be so bad if the site were square, but since it's more or less an isosceles triangle, shoehorning a field and stands into the space is quite an effort. Instead of 5 acres of available space, it's really less than 4. There's a possibility that a portion of a grandstand could be built over Los Gatos Greek, but that would trigger a potentially lengthy environmental review process because of the removal of some portion of the riparian corridor.

Unfortunately, we may be getting into a situation where soccer fans and baseball proponents end up fighting over the Diridon South site. Worse, the city may put together a proposal where the two teams share a stadium, an idea that goes against both MLS and MLB guidelines.

Interestingly enough, there is a piece (or pieces) of land nearby which, if the city invested in them the same way the are with the ballpark site, would make an excellent site for a 20-25,000 seat SSS. It would leave the fire training site open for the public park originally planned for the area. Where is this site, you ask? I will probably reveal it at the city council session tonight.