Sharks, San Jose have opened talks on replacing 22-year-old arena, because that’s just ancient

I don’t remember exactly when I last suggested that the San Jose Sharks might soon circle back around and ask for another new arena, prompting complaints from Sharks fans that their current 22-year-old home is just fine, but apparently those talks have already begun:

“We have been talking to the Sharks about how we make arrangements for the construction of another facility here in San Jose,” [San Jose Mayor Sam] Liccardo said. “At some point we know, within our lifetimes, this arena will outlive its useful life. We know we have one of the oldest arenas already in the NHL. Hard to believe that’s true, but it is. So whether it’s a significant upgrade to this arena–it’s got to be more than a facelift, obviously–or the construction of a new one, we need to start having conversations about those sites.”

Liccardo is currently working on a lease extension with the Sharks owners on their existing arena, so anything new isn’t likely to get built for another few years, at least. Still, it’s amazing how quickly everyone has come to accept that a 22-year-old building must be nearing the end of its “useful life.” We may not have quite reached Rod Fort’s singularity where team owners can demand a new building every year, but we’re sure headed in that direction.

15 comments on “Sharks, San Jose have opened talks on replacing 22-year-old arena, because that’s just ancient

  1. I’d like to hope that most arenas built in the 90s would be able to get at least half the lifespan of the old barns of yesteryear.

    If not thats pretty sad considering arenas built in 20s and 30s lasted longer than modern technology….

  2. I have said before that the SJ arena looks as good as it did at birth. It has been very well maintained. Not sure what improvements it needs other than some new seat cushions. If “in our lifetimes” Mayor Liccardo means at the end of the average life expectancy of adult males in the US (somewhere north of 65), but I hope so.

    Interesting parts of the referenced article were these:

    “The Shark Tank opened in 1993. It was paid for largely by the city but with the Sharks kicking in some of their own dough to up the amenities and make it more suitable for the NHL. The Sharks have also made annual lease payments to the city, including $1.6 million annually as San Jose’s share of the naming rights to the building.”

    “The new arrangement, it is believed, will see most of the money collected by San Jose rebated to the Sharks for use in upgrading and improving the arena. In exchange, the Sharks will agree to play in the building for several years past 2018.

    “The mayor justified the “rebate” strategy of kicking back the city’s lease payments to the Sharks, as long as the money is used to keep the arena updated.”

    I guess this makes sense…if the City is landlord and they chose to essentially pay the tenants (sharks) to do the work of upkeep on the property., that’s their call.

    Here is the kicker tho’:

    “Teams never prefer to be tenants in another franchise’s building. That’s particularly true for NHL teams, most of which lose money on an operating basis but make up some or all of the debit from operating the building and earning profits from concerts, ice shows and the circus. So why would the Sharks ever move to San Francisco and pay rent when they can have their own building instead?”

    So maybe we should let the Sharks go and the City can keep all of the money from concerts and circuses for themselves. Probably would make more than the taxes generated by event-day traffic at local restaurants, etc.

  3. The Sharks owners have been paying for any upgrades previously, though, right? So under this plan they’d get to start deducting those from their rent, in effect?

  4. There’s zero chance the Sharks go to SF to play in the Warriors arena. That arena isn’t being set up to accommodate hockey and the team has already said it has zero interest in that sort of move. The arena isn’t going anywhere. They’ll probably do some upgrades or maybe even a remodel, but there not a single better location for them to be in.

  5. Neil, your 2001 article linked to at the end of this post is one of the most cogent and concise summations of stadium and arena economics I’ve ever seen. Have you ever done an update on the piece? While I don’t believe the underlying truths have changed at all, more recent examples and numbers would make it even more powerful.

  6. @Neil

    To my knowledge, no, the Sharks have not been paying for major upgrades. When the Sharks wanted fancy active scoreboards, the city footed the bill.

    As for ongoing maintenance, I don’t know the arrangement.

  7. Bentonian: Thanks! I like to think my book is pretty cogent, if not so concise.

    As for articles, the minute someone wants to assign me a piece on “Why sports stadium subsidies suck, in five easy steps,” I’m all over it.

  8. Without getting to the questions of whether it would be worth replacing and who should pay, SAP does have some aspects that make it less that optimal in terms of revenue generation. The club seats are the first 16 rows in 80% of the sections, which doesn’t follow the model of either second-deck/top-of-the-first-deck club seats or exclusively center ice club seats. And having the one ring of luxury suites at the top of the upper bowl certainly impacts how much they can get for those (but does make the upper bowl seats much closer to the ice than if the second level of suites were below them). Not sure how you change either of those without basically rebuilding the whole structure.

    It will be interesting to see how ticket sale go this year, with what should probably be a rebuilding year ahead.

  9. Also, as originally designed, the arena was to be for community use rather than for a major league sports tenant, and would’ve had 14,000 seats and no press box or luxury suites. The amount that the Sharks kicked in that is mentioned in the article was to make up for the increased construction cost to make the arena NHL-acceptable.

  10. Brian, SAP Center has two rings of suites. One at the back of the lower deck, one at the top of the upper deck. And the latter have outstanding sightlines in my experience (and are well appointed).

  11. I think the arena is fine and could use some minor upgrades, but the previous owner signed an awful TV deal that prevents them for turning a profit. They keep losing money despite having good attendance.

  12. A twenty year-old Arena obsolete? I can’t wait to go to the Minnesota state legislature and have them build me a new ballpark replace Target Field in 2030!

  13. When will we finally see the antiquated new Yankee stadium consigned to the dustbin of history and a modern replacement built?

    I mean, that thing is like five years old or something right? It has to be near the median for ballpark ages doesn’t it?

    I watched the Reds playing at home last week. The announcers actually referred to the GAB as “middle aged”. It won’t even be a teenager for another 11 months…