Sharks sue VTA over BART extension to San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- It's only been one week since BART officially approved its extension into Downtown San Jose, but now there's a new lawsuit from the parent company of the San Jose Sharks that could potentially delay the project.

Sharks Sports and Entertainment is taking legal action against the VTA, which is funding the construction and operation of the BART extension to San Jose. Company executives say they support the BART project, but are concerned that the current plan doesn't address several issues surrounding the arena, including a promise to ensure adequate parking, as well as a safe and accessible environment for visitors during construction.

"We have been pushing VTA for more than two years to work with us on these issues without success," said SSE Co-President John Tortora. "We did not take this decision lightly."

The San Jose Downtown Association says the lawsuit and the push to preserve parking around the SAP Center makes sense.

"This is one of the highest performing sports and entertainment arenas in the country," said Scott Knies, San Jose Downtown Association executive director. "We're going to have a new arena opening up in San Francisco that's going to put us on the edge. We have to stay competitive."

The Diridon BART Station will be built at W. Santa Clara St. and N. Autumn St. across from the arena, which draws more than 1.5 million people downtown on an annual basis. Many visitors rely on parking close to the arena, but most of the current lots are slated for eventual development.

Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group hopes that both sides will come to the table soon.

"We need to make sure that we keep the big picture in mind, that as we build BART, we do it in a way that the impacts are minimized," says Guardino. "The single bore tunnel is a huge step in the right direction."

The lawsuit calls for the VTA to rescind approval of the project and to stop all work until the Sharks' concerns are properly addressed.

The VTA told ABC7 News it would not comment on pending litigation.

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