Earthquakes stadium funding gap resolved?

San Jose Earthquakes managing partner Keith Wolff (son of owner Lew) gave a presentation to San Jose residents last night on the progress of their long-stalled soccer-only stadium, and if he’s to be believed, it could be stalled not much longer. Skip past all the stuff about noise complaints (which is important if you live near the stadium, but not likely to be a major holdup) and stadium design (which is largely unchanged from two years ago), and you hit this tidbit:

The overall budget for the 15000-18000 seat stadium would require “up to a $60 million investment” by team ownership and was not dependent on securing outside corporate funding.

If true, that’s a big change from last year, when Lew Wolff said he’d need to pre-sell “sponsorships” to raise money for a new stadium. It’s not clear why that would have changed — improving revenue projections for MLS? increased desperation on Wolff’s part to get shovels in the ground leading him to front the money himself? — but if it has, then a new Earthquakes stadium could be open by … probably not 2013, but certainly 2014, if they get rolling soon.

19 comments on “Earthquakes stadium funding gap resolved?

  1. If they break ground soon, I think 2013 is realistic. It looks like its going to be pretty rinky dink stadium, real basic. Thats why I cant believe that its taking this long to finally start.

  2. They probably changed their plans due to finally realizing it’s very hard to sell sponsorships (particularly for an MLS team) in a stadium that doesn’t physically exist yet. It’s much easier to build the thing with your cash and go back and get the sponsorships later when you have something to physically sell them.

    That said the latest design of the stadium took what was already a pretty basic affair and cheapened it even further adding obstructed views of all things. I don’t think a pro stadium has been built with that many obstructed views since Candlestick Park was completed in 1960.

  3. How on earth can there be a “noise complaint” for a stadium that sits alongside railroad tracks and is just across a six-lane street from SJ Int’l Airport?

  4. And next to an 8 lane freeway and a major university with several existing stadiums including a baseball park that was built right against their neighborhood. There can’t be. These people knew what they were moving into as the most recent of them moved in during 1987. Their “concerns” will be “addressed” accordingly by the city as they should be.

  5. Good to see the Quakes finally get rolling with their “starter” stadium. Buck Shaw is simply not professional-level and is a constant reminder how much the Quakes seem a minor league operation.

    My guess on this is that MLS its related entities (SUM, for example) are generating enough positive cash flow for the Quakes to move forward. Part of the SUM interest was just sold for something like $150 million. NBC signed a new TV deal. Attendance is up around the league. Life is pretty good in MLS land.

  6. We should applaud the “rinky dink” nature of this stadium if it means that tickets will stay cheap and private funds can pay for most it. Since I’m not sitting in the luxury boxes, give me rinky dink any day.

  7. Not really Tom. This stadium design is now so rinky dink that it’ll do nothing for the team but be out of date very quickly and need to be replaced. Better to do it right the first time or not do it at all.

  8. While I haven’t seen the ‘latest’ design Dan speaks of, in general I agree with Tom. Constructing a low cost SSS and passing on at least part of the savings (some of it will be owner’s ROI, given that no public money appears to be needed for the soccer facility now – not even rezoning windfalls as Wolff sought originally) to customers may be a solid plan in the present (and likely near future) economic climate.

    Faced with the choice between expensive football/baseball tickets and modest prices for soccer 18-20 times/yr, perhaps a low price point could be the path to modest success for the Quakes.

    It does still have to be a ‘nice’ place to be (which the original 15k horseshoe shaped facility SJE showed off a couple of years ago would be), but price point for pro sports is becoming more important. Just ask the NJ Devils, Yankees, Mets etc. MLS teams, barring a couple on the top end, don’t make or break financially on corporate sales as some other sports do.

    Not giving fans a reason “not to go” depends more on price point now than it did four years ago.

  9. BTW, the Quakes MLS site still has pictures of the 360 Architecture stadium from Sept 2010 as current.

    Is there anything new since then?

  10. John, that’s where the new images that were shown off at a community meeting Monday would be a problem. The newest images show a stadium with obstructed view seats making up 2/3 of the seating capacity. That to me signals that the stadium is no longer “nice” place that will be much of a draw to people (hell even their dump at Buck Shaw doesn’t have obstructed seats).

    It’s not the clearest photo but you can plainly see the new view obstructing roof supports that have been added here…

  11. The original images lacked any info on roof support structure (the fabric/metal roof simply ‘hangs’ in the air without either cantilevering or post & beam structures).

    Apart from that change, it looks like essentially the same stadium. I’m not sure I’d consider this to be changed as much as “explained”… certainly the first released images were very light on detail.

    I would agree they need the type of amenities that make a stadium a ‘destination’, pubs, shops, entertainment options (interesting to note that even English League two and conference clubs are starting to build facilities that include conference and banquet rooms, restaurants rather than concession stands etc. to provide earning opportunities on non-game days as well), and this type of thing has always been lacking in this design.

    That said, small steps… right now they play in half of a 40 year old baseball stadium that seats less than 10k (in actual seats)… it may not be the final goal, but the proposed design is at least an improvement on that. And if they can start building it ‘today’, so much the better.

    BTW, fans have jammed Vancouver’s temporary stadium this year despite portable toilets and roof support columns. And Yankee Stadium v3 has no support columns but plenty of obstructed/partial view seats. I guess it depends what you sell them for…

  12. Oh I agree other stadiums have been built with a few obstructed view seats, but nothing as extensive as this in decades. And yes Vancouver filled their temp stadium that wasn’t much better, but it was on the presumption that it was temporary (as in they’ll be leaving it to go to another stadium that is FAR nicer). That won’t be the case with this stadium. This is the Earthquakes home for at least the next quarter of a century. And it’s barely an upgrade from their own temporary 10,300 seat digs over at Buck Shaw or YVR’s temp stadium. The Quakes would be trading one temp stadium for a permanent stadium that looks and feels like a temp stadium. If they want to succeed in this particular market they’ll need to do more than that. I mean we’re talking about an MLS market that has already been burned by the league once and nothing was ever done to correct that (and putting the team in a shit venue permanently won’t do anything to fix it either).

  13. As I’ve said before, a smarter move would be to save their money until they’re able to do this right and build a proper professional venue like all their fellow teams have done (privately or public/private).

  14. I’m not sure I agree. Thin posts supporting a roof hardly obstructs your view. Soccer is more about watching the game, because it goes by in less than 2 hours. People hate the new Yankee stadium, it is already a relic from a by-gone era, when the masses thought they could afford luxuries. I agree that conference space and pubs helps justify the infrastructure.

  15. Have you ever watched a game from behind roof supports… they get freaking distracting very fast defeating the purpose of “watching the game” from your seat.

  16. Umm… From the first rendering it shows no beams being in the way of the field. it’s just a poor design drawing, they’re not really going to have support beams like that. if they do, what an incredibly stupid thing to do.

  17. Dan;

    yes, I have watched sporting events from behind columns. The answer is, it depends how close to the columns you are. I’m assuming no seats will be placed in the 5 or 6 rows right behind the column. If you are 20-30 back from a support, it really isn’t an issue as the ball/player is only partially obscured and, at that, for a few milliseconds.

    If it’s Fenway Park or Wrigley field and you have purchased a seat 2 feet behind a column, you’ve been cheated, of course…

  18. Dan,
    As a matter of fact, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington TX was built with support beams in the left field stands in 1994. Mad ex-King George was the president of the Rangers back then. Feel free to place a Bush joke here.

  19. Marty, again that was a small portion of the stadium that was done on purpose as a tribute design element (tribute to Tiger Stadium), not because they’re cheap and/or out of money like Wolff and the Earthquakes.