Sharks agree not to sue San Jose over Google
The San Jose Sharks said the Diridon Station development could jeopardize fans’ ability to access SAP Center and turn the nearby area into a ghost town. Photo courtesy of the San Jose Sharks.

After months of loudly opposing Google’s foray into downtown San Jose, the Sharks hockey team has come to an agreement with the city and tech giant.

“The city and Google absolutely hear the Sharks’ critical need for essential access,” Jessica Zenk, the city’s deputy director of transportation, said Tuesday. “We will absolutely continue to coordinate with Sharks Sports & Entertainment (SSE) moving forward and firmly believe the Sharks will be able to succeed and thrive with the project as its neighbor.

The city announced the agreement hours before the San Jose City Council approved Google’s Downtown West project, the largest development in the city’s history located just a few hundred feet from the SAP Center, the Sharks’ home arena.

As part of the agreement, the city will guarantee at least 2,850 parking spaces during construction of Google’s Downtown West project, located at a maximum distance of one-third of a mile from the SAP Center, Zenk said. The city will agree to pay increased transportation costs over parking-related fees that exceed 2019 costs. The city and Google will also consult with the hockey team for Downtown West’s final design.

In exchange, the Sharks pledged not to sue the city or Google.

“Sharks Sports & Entertainment has long been a proponent of the urban planning vision that the city has for the Diridon Station Area, including Google’s Downtown West project, so long as it does not endanger the viability and success of the city-owned and SSE-managed SAP Center,” said Scott Emmert, spokesperson for the Sharks.

The Sharks have long been vocal about the need for parking near SAP Center, publishing an open letter specifying their needs during the construction of Google’s proposed 80-acre megacampus. The team also refused to consent to the sale of three lots near their arena that the city gave Google permission to buy.

The Downtown West project, first proposed by the tech giant in 2018, spans 80 acres near Diridon Station and features 7.3 million square feet of office space, 4,000 housing units, 15 acres of parks and a 30,000-50,000-square-foot community center. It also boasts 500,000 square feet for retail, cultural, education and arts uses. A quarter of housing units in the area—approximately 1,000—will be affordable.

AJ, a 15-year San Jose homeowner and 40-year Bay Area resident, hoped the Sharks and the city would come to an agreement on Tuesday. He did not give his last name.

“Make no mistake, I’m not against development of downtown, but not at the cost of the Sharks,” he said during Tuesday’s council meeting. “The Sharks and the SAP Center need to be included in the development, rather than an afterthought that requires last second negotiation.”

Weeks ago, the hockey team stated its opposition to the project’s 495-page development agreement during a Diridon Station Area Advisory Group meeting, the first remarks since the agreement became public on April 6.

The Sharks claimed the project would force them out of San Jose because of traffic, street closures and a shortage of parking caused by development. Team officials demanded the city nearly double the parking spots in the plan.

Tuesday’s agreement will stop any other opposition from the team concerning the project—something that local advocates praised.

“Kudos to the city and Sharks for getting this agreement done as part of the Downtown West approval,” said Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA). The SJDA has long been a proponent of Google’s project, believing it will bring thousands of jobs and spur economic development in the area.

The City Council approved the agreement, along with the Downtown West project, Tuesday night with a unanimous vote.

“We sincerely appreciate the efforts by the city and Google to address Sharks Sports & Entertainment’s concerns, and we look forward to continuing discussions as these projects move forward,” Emmert said.

Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

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