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Stadium FAQs

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What is this project, anyway?

The proposal is to build a baseball stadium on about 14 acres of land immediately next to Diridon station. Specifically, the stadium would be constructed in the area generally bounded by Autumn St., Bird Ave. and Los Gatos Creek to the east and south, railroad tracks to the west, and Julian St. to the north. The stadium would become the home field for the (now) Oakland A's. Currently still undetermined are the size of the stadium (options are 32,000 or 36,000 seat capacity) and whether and where any parking lots would be constructed for the stadium. Here's a map showing the location of the stadium, and two potential parking lot locations.

The city of San Jose has lots of information about the project available online:

Note that there are 2 major parts of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The original EIR was done in 2007. More recently, a supplemental EIR (SEIR) was done to adjust the original EIR for some changes in the project proposal and to correct traffic study errors. The SEIR is not a complete replacement for the original EIR, but it does cover traffic, parking, and noise.

Assuming the stadium is approved by San Jose in 2010, construction would start in 2011 and would be complete in 2014.

Why do the A’s want/need a new stadium?

In a word: money. Professional baseball is a business, and a very lucrative one for the people involved.

A new stadium is designed and built to capture as much of the spending by fans as possible, increasing the revenue to the team owners:

  • more expensive corporate suites (sky boxes);
  • more high priced club seats;
  • fewer seats overall to create scarcity, and demand;
  • many more built-in concessions (beer, food);
  • many more built-in merchandise outlets;
  • team owners get parking revenue (if they can get away with this)

In addition, the team owners get a significant boost in the value of the team franchise. When it comes time to sell the team, they get to keep the money, and the host city gets a new ownership team which often demands more stadium improvements to help pay for the team they just bought.

New stadiums are often not particularly fan friendly, or public friendly:

  • there are a lot fewer cheaper seats, and they're in worse locations
  • ticket prices go up, making a game less affordable for the average family
  • more space given to concessions, etc. means seats are often further from the field (especially the lower priced ones)
  • money spent inside the stadium is not spent outside, hurting near-by businesses (businesses near Yankee Stadium saw sharp declines in business when the new Yankee Stadium opened)

In a sense, team owners are engaged in a stadium 'arms race', at our expense. They need more and more revenue to compete with each other, and they need public money to help finance their revenue streams.


What will the stadium cost? Who will pay for it?

These are key questions; the answers are not as clear as they should be.

So far we’ve been told that the estimated stadium construction cost is $461M (in 2009 dollars) and that San Jose will insist that the team pay the construction costs and the maintenance costs. It has also become apparent that San Jose will essentially pay for the land and infrastructure changes around the stadium.

So what will the stadium cost San Jose? There is no official answer, but we can make some estimates, to get a total of $95M to $145M, plus lost tax of $1M per year.

  • land cost (present value: $60M to $100M
  • land cleanup: $10M to $15M
  • infrastructure costs: $20M to $30M
  • foregone property tax on land: $1M per year

See here for a more complete estimate of the San Jose costs.

Are there other costs that we're not aware of?

Another important question with no official answer.

A baseball stadium would have a very high opportunity cost for San Jose. The proposed site is immediately next to Diridon Station, which is slated to become one of the most important transportation hubs in the western US, and a prime location for office space in a 21st Century, new green economy. Commercial development at this site would bring four times more economic benefit to San Jose compared to a stadium. This would be a loss of billions of dollars and thousands of jobs for San Jose. See here for a fuller analysis.

There are lots of other potential costs that we don't know now, and probably won't know until it's too late. The city and the team would have to negotiate a lease for the stadium. Team owners are very good at these negotiations - it's their own money, and they can and do threaten to go somewhere else if they don't get their deal. Cities are very bad at these negotiations - the politicians will be gone by the time anybody figures things out, and its our money, not theirs. One common example: the city agrees that the stadium will remain 'competitive' or the team can break the lease and move; for many cities, this has meant that when other stadiums get new multi-million dollar scoreboards, the city has to do the same.

Finance is another murky area. Often the city floats the bonds to pay for the stadium and the team agrees in one form or another to pay the interest on the bonds. But if the team gets in trouble, or gets sold and the owner finds a way to break the lease, the city is stuck.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 May 2010 22:56
 

Neighborhood FAQs

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What's an EIR?

EIR stands for Environmental Impact Report. By law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires state and local agencies to follow a protocol of analysis and public disclosure of the potential environmental impacts of a development. The purpose of an EIR is to inform decision-makers and the general public of the environmental effects of a proposed project. The EIR process is intended to provide information sufficient to evaluate a project and its potential for significant impacts on the environment; to examine methods of reducing adverse impacts; and to consider alternatives to the project.


Where do I find info on the baseball stadium EIR?

The San Jose Planning Dept. maintains a web page listing all the EIR's for projects in the city.:   

For the baseball stadium project, there are actually 2 EIR's.

A full EIR was completed and certified in 2007, when the stadium project was first seriously considered. This EIR contains information and analysis in all of the categories mandated by CEQA:

  • LAND USE
  • POPULATION, EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING
  • TRANSPORTATION, CIRCULATION AND PARKING
  • AIR QUALITY
  • NOISE
  • BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES
  • GEOLOGY, SOILS AND SEISMICITY
  • HYDROLOGY AND WATER QUALITY
  • HAZARDS AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
  • CULTURAL AND PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES
  • VISUAL AND AESTHETIC RESOURCES
  • SHADE/SHADOW AND LIGHT/GLARE
  • UTILITIES
  • PUBLIC SERVICES AND FACILITIES
  • ENERGY

Recently, a Supplemental EIR (SEIR) was done because of some traffic errors in the original EIR, and because the project has been somewhat modified. It contains an updated project description, and basically redoes the traffic, parking, and noise sections.

Public comments on the SEIR (some sharply critical) can be found here, and the First Amendment of the SEIR, with the city's  responses to the comments, can be found here.



What are the major impacts predicted by the EIR?

The EIR summarizes the predicted impacts as follows: "significant unavoidable cumulative impacts to transportation and circulation, air quality, noise, visual resources, light and glare, and historic resources."
Specifically, these impacts include:

  • Freeways would experience a significant impact from project traffic along 16 segments of I-280, I-680, I-880, SR-87;
  • Long-term project-related regional emissions would exceed the BAAQMD thresholds of significance for ozone precursors;
  • Traffic noise levels along W. San Fernando Street would exceed the City’s short-range noise standards;
  • Stadium events would increase the ambient noise level resulting in impacts to nearby residential land uses;
  • Construction activities would result in short-term increases in noise;
  • Temporary fireworks displays would result in increases in noise;
  • Two structures listed on the City of San Jose Historic Resources Inventory as Structures of Merit, which also appear to be candidates to be City Landmarks and eligible for the California Register, would be demolished;
  • The San Jose Diridon Station, a City landmark listed in the National Register, would sustain indirect impacts due to demolition of adjacent buildings and direct impacts due to the alteration of the character of the Station’s setting;
  • Nighttime operation of the stadium would increase light and glare in the area and present a nuisance to surrounding land uses;
  • The generation of greenhouse gas emissions, which would represent a cumulatively considerable contribution to climate change impacts.


What other impacts can I expect?

Critics of the EIR believe the following impacts are also highly likely:

  • widespread downtown parking shortages, particularly for day games and for simultaneous events (e.g. baseball and hockey games);
  • significant traffic congestion on local streets, as fans escape clogged freeways to find alternate routes, and look for parking;
  • parking shortages for other downtown theaters and businesses within a 1 mile radius of stadium;
  • parking permits required within 1 mile radius.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 May 2010 21:59
 

Diridon Station Area FAQ

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What is the Diridon Station Area?

The Diridon Station Area is the area roughly within a ½-mile radius around Diridon Station (approximately 500 acres of land).

Here's a link to the Diridon Station Area Map.

Diridon Station is already a major transit hub. Passenger rail service includes CalTrain commuter trains, Altamont Commuter Express (ACE), and Amtrak long distance trains. Local transit services include VTA light rail and a bus transit hub.

Future additions, including a BART station, an airport connection, and the San Jose station for the California High Speed Rail service, will make Diridon station one of the premiere transportation hubs in the western United States.

What's going on? Where can I get information?

The city of San Jose has started a planning process for the Diridon Station Area. The objective of this process is to create a vision and framework for higher intensity/transit-oriented development (TOD) in the area. It includes developing a Station Area Plan with related transit and station-area planning activities. The process involves the creation of several scenarios for the appropriate expansion of the existing Diridon Station to embrace the possible future BART and HSR stations, and sets forth recommendations for a land use vision with implementation strategies, and transit-oriented design guidelines. Diridon Station is planned to have enhanced multimodal network connections to support a 24-hour/7-day-a-week commercial and entertainment center as part of the expanded Downtown Core.

More information is at the web site for the Diridon Station Plan.


Is San Jose alone in doing something like this?

No. Many cities in California see the opportunity created by the High Speed rail project, and are planning to develop the areas around their stations as 21st century neighborhoods.

San Francisco plans to use the TransBay Center as the catalyst and  heart of a large new downtown transit-friendly neighborhood, with homes, offices, parks and shops. The Redevelopment Plan will facilitate the development of nearly 2,600 new homes (35 percent of which will be affordable), 3 million square feet of new office and commercial space and 100,000 square feet of retail. The buildings will include townhouses, low- and mid-rise buildings and slender high-rise towers spaced apart to provide sunlight to proposed new plazas, parks and widened sidewalks.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 23:45
 

HSR FAQ

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What is the HSR  project?

The California High-Speed Rail (HSR) project is a future high-speed rail system, operating high-speed trains capable of 220 mph linking San Francisco and Los Angeles in as little as two and a half hours. The system would also serve other major California cities, including Sacramento, San Jose, Fresno, Bakersfield, Anaheim, and San Diego.

Where can I get more info?

The California HSR Authority (CHSRA) has a web site here.

To see an interactive route map, go here.

What does the HSR project mean to San Jose?

Diridon Station will be the HSR station in San Jose, and will be an important station in the HSR system.

The 2008 CHSRA Business Plan estimates an average of 9 - 10 HSR trains per hour in each direction by 2030 during the 6 morning and afternoon peak hours. Almost all of these will stop at Diridon station. CHSRA also predicts the system will carry tens of millions of passengers per year, with a sizable share of intra-state travel (especially air travel) expected to switch to HSR.

One of the most important questions for San Jose is the choice of the track route and configuration north and south of Diridon station. As of May, 2010, the HSR Authority is completing an Alternative Analysis Study that will look at seven different alignments to access the Diridon Station. These alignment alternatives include four above-grade options (which would likely mean large aerial structures) and three tunnel options.

The HSR Authority is still considering the amount of parking necessary to support the HSR project at the Diridon Station and the location and design of the parking.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 23:35
 


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The Transbay Transit Center Project is a visionary transportation and housing project that transforms downtown San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay Area's regional transportation system by creating a Grand Central Station of the West in the heart of a new transit-friendly neighborhood. The $4 billion project . . . creates a new neighborhood with homes, offices, parks and shops surrounding the new Transit Center.

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