Features & Columns

San Jose Earthquakes New Stadium Hearing

Fans of the San Jose Earthquakes hope that a show of support
will push the new stadium over the hump
FLAG WAVERS: San Jose's fans of the Earthquakes have been instrumental in the team's history. Photograph by Napoleon Badillo

If I lived 1,000 feet away from a brand-new soccer stadium, I would welcome the fact that my property values would increase as a result.

To have the beautiful game, the pro sport that first put San Jose on the map nearly 40 years ago, to have this game within a 20-second Tommie Smith and John Carlos run away from my property, would dramatically increase the quality of my life.

But I guess I am one meaningless malcontent whose voice is never heard.

In any event, on Feb. 22, the city of San Jose Planning Commission is set to decide on whether or not to deny an appeal by one person against a Planned Development Permit allowing the San Jose Earthquakes to build an 18,000-capacity soccer stadium on Coleman Avenue.

Filed on the very last day it was possible to do so, the appeal claims that the impact from noise and light trespass coming from a "large open-air gap between the top of the stands and the roof structure" has not been adequately modeled.

This is after the team already altered stadium plans to accommodate concerns from this person, and a few others like her, who live 1000 feet away, on the other side of a major railway corridor that separates them from the stadium area.

The way I see it, the team has already produced more-than-adequate noise and lighting studies, based on a similar open stadium, the Home Depot Center, one that even holds 9,000 more people. And in a compromise, the team even agreed to refrain from hosting concerts at the new stadium, an outright appeasement, if I should say so myself.

Since the person who filed the appeal doesn't seem remotely interested in how supporters actually feel about the situation, I would now like to turn to them, the fans.

Why? Because they are everything. Without them, none of this would be happening in the first place. And also, because they have plans to fill the City Council Chambers for the hearing.

The team's front office encouraged every available fan to attend and show their support. A large crowd sporting the team colors—black, white and blue will attend. Many will speak on behalf of the team, its stadium and the benefits for San Jose.

Allow me to continue: It was the fans who originally rallied in Plaza de Cesar Chavez to save the team for one more season in 2004, when the previous ownership group, AEG, was trying to relocate the squad to Houston—a travesty they eventually perpetrated anyway.

It was the fans, many of whom are left over from the original NASL days in the '70s, who lobbied the league to make sure the Earthquakes' name, colors, logo, wordmark, history and competitive records stayed here after the team moved. For example, the two championships remained in San Jose, so when the team later returned as an expansion franchise, it continued with all the previous records intact.

If you're an NFL fan, this is similar to what the Cleveland Browns did. Again, the San Jose fans are the ones who made that happen. The league originally wanted a different scenario, but the fans fought to keep the history and tradition here in San Jose.

So, shouldn't the fans' opinions be taken into account here? What about their quality of life? The individuals on the other side of the railway corridor will not have to endure anything remotely as inhumane as thousands of die-hards who've tolerated a rinky-dink, ramshackle third-rate, embarrassing high-school dump of a stadium for the last four seasons. I mean, the prudes who run Santa Clara University wouldn't even let people drink beer in the stands during the first two seasons the team played there. The fans had to fight for that, too.

Back in the NASL days in the '70s, the fans had a phrase, "Pack the Pit," to describe how they jammed themselves together in the tight confines of Spartan Stadium to cheer for the original San Jose Earthquakes.

I believe they will do the same in the City Council Chambers. If the appeal is rejected, look for flags of celebration. San Jose will be a better place as a result.