San Jose, Sharks come to deal on downtown parking structure

Ending months of frustrating discussions with city officials, the San Jose Sharks emerged victorious Tuesday after San Jose agreed to solve the team's concerns about traffic and parking from a proposed downtown ballpark.
The city will let the team build a four-story parking facility just north of HP Pavilion. San Jose, in turn, will oversee transportation improvements and traffic and parking plans to ease congestion around the Pavilion, the Major League Baseball park and Diridon Station.

"Because there are so many projects slated for this area, we felt it was critical that a traffic plan and parking plan and infrastructure plan all be put into place,'' said Greg Jamison, chief executive officer of Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Sharks and manages the arena where they play.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, said it was all a matter of timing.

"The Sharks wanted more certainty earlier about the things we would do to protect our building and their interests,'' he said of the Pavilion, which the city built and owns. The city also owns the Sharks' current 1,800-space parking lots, with revenues going both to the city's general fund and Sharksoperations.

The City Council will discuss the proposal at its June 15 meeting.

Reed said he had been confident the city would resolve differences with the Sharks over a revised environmental impact report for the ballpark site, which suggested no new downtown parking was needed. Aside from the possibility of two major sporting venues, the Sharks and other critics noted plans to bring BART and high-speed rail and accompanying vehicle traffic to Diridon Station.

"I just thought we ought to try to figure out if we could come to common ground on what needed to be done,'' said Reed.

For months, the Sharks have been openly critical of the environmental report, saying they were particularly concerned about days when simultaneous events would occur at the Pavilion and the stadium.

The Sharks have insisted that additional parking must be built in the area beyond the 13,847 available in downtown lots and garages. Last week, the team filed an appeal challenging the San Jose's Planning Commission's decision to certify the environmental report. .

City officials didn't disagree with the call for more parking they just couldn't pay for it. San Jose's general operating fund faces an $118 million budget deficit in the fiscal year that begins July 1, and the city's cash-strapped redevelopment agency just had to pay $62 million to the state of California to help balance Sacramento's budget.

San Jose officials had suggested building a garage on the existing parking lot adjacent to the Pavilion so no land would have to be purchased. But Sharks management said that would disrupt operations and cost them revenue.

Under the new agreement, the team will have the right to buy the land and build the parking structure, both of which it would then own. A handful of properties will have to be acquired for the project, which might not go forward if the A's don't get permission from Major League Baseball to move to San Jose.

Jamison would not estimate the cost of the project, but he said the team might finance it by bringing in investors or selling bonds that would be repaid by parking revenues.

And if property owners refuse to sell to the Sharks, the city and redevelopment agency said they will step in and execute eminent domain, the legal process by which land can be taken from one private owner at market value and given to another.
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Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment
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www.svse.net/
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