SJ Sharks concerned big development project near SAP Center could force team to relocate

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As more details about Google's Downtown West development plan begin to emerge, the San Jose Sharks are urging the public to weigh in about the massive project, which will be built adjacent to SAP Center.

"We just worry that as things are currently designed, as it looks like it's going, the arena might become infeasible at some point in the future," said Jonathan Becher, president of Sharks Sports and Entertainment. "It might be impossible to host a concert, it might be impossible to host a hockey game, and if that were to come true, then we would be forced to leave."

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The team sent a letter to a select group of fans on Thursday, outlining concerns over street network access, parking challenges, and construction impacts related to San Jose's Diridon Station Area Plan, which also includes the Google project. Team executives hope the community will voice any concerns of their own to the city.

"It's estimated that more than $250 million of extra economic impact per year is generated by the roughly 170 events that we have in our building," said Becher, who says future projects in the area should be staggered to avoid traffic congestion.

Local roads will be reconfigured as officials focus on transit-oriented development near Diridon Station, which will include a mix of residential, commercial, and open space. A new BART station is also slated to open downtown in the coming years.

"We have to change, we have to be a forward-looking, 21st century city," said San Jose State University urban planning instructor Kelly Snider. "They'll figure out a way to make it work and to fold into the on-going development plans from Google, from Adobe, from Jay Paul, from everybody."

Some say that the SAP Center, which opened in 1993, could be due for a remodel or teardown in the future, and that any redevelopment plans should also account for that possibility. Groups such as the San Jose Downtown Association say they're excited for the future, but will also be keeping a watchful eye on the process.

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The San Jose Sharks Foundation provided a $34,000 Community Assist Grant to sponsor the CityTeam mobile food pantry for the rest of the year.



"We're going to dramatically increase the densities and the heights on the west side of downtown," said Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association.

"There's going to be a lot more people, customers, traffic. We want them to be able to circulate and move between all of the businesses."

Mayor Sam Liccardo says he's confident the city and the team will be able to work out their differences in the long run.

"The ability for us to bring thousands of Sharks fans, in the form of local riders, in the form of local workers, and new residents right to their front door, is something that any professional sports franchise would love to see happen," said Liccardo.

The Sharks have a lease agreement at the SAP Center until 2025, with an extension option through 2040.

"We were born here in San Jose. We've grown up in San Jose. This is our home and want to stay here," said Becher.

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