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Sharks issue SAP Center threat over Google development

The San Jose Sharks NHL ice hockey franchise has issued a warning over the team’s future at SAP Center amid plans for the construction of a Google campus near the arena.

In an open letter to fans, the Sharks expressed concerns over the Google project and other construction work planned in the immediate vicinity of SAP Center, which has served as the team’s home since it opened in 1993.

The letter states that the future viability of SAP Center “could be jeopardised” if development projects are not properly planned and implemented.

The letter details how the city of San Jose last month revised its Diridon Station Area Plan (DSAP), which focuses on the redevelopment of around 250 acres of land within the Diridon neighbourhood and overlays Google’s Downtown West project.

Google recently released an environmental impact for its project, which proposes the construction of up to 65 new buildings over an 84-acre area within the Diridon Station area.

The letter notes that the DSAP would add additional development in an area twice as big as the footprint of Google’s planned Downtown West project. According to the Sharks, the projects will impact SAP Center operations in three ways: street network accessibility, parking availability and disruption caused by construction.

The letter states: “For more than a year, we have been sharing our concerns with you regarding the proposed, massive development projects within the Diridon area of downtown San Jose, which surrounds SAP Center.

“For the past several years, we have been sharing those same concerns with city of San Jose officials and Google. Unfortunately, those discussions have yielded limited results and the planners of these projects appear intent on moving forward in a manner that could force the Sharks out of San Jose.”

Sharks president Jonathan Becher told the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper: “We’re all for the development. Let’s not suffocate the area while this is happening. We need it to be more well thought out.”

Becher added that it is the responsibility of the city, and not Google, to “solve these problems”.

In a tweet, Becher said that the team wants to stay in San Jose and continue playing at SAP Center. “We are supportive of development and public transportation but must ensure guests will be able to safely and conveniently access the arena for (Sharks) games, concerts, and other events,” he said.

A public hearing on the Google project will be held today (Monday), with a decision on whether to approve the plans expected next spring. The project is the largest ever proposed for downtown San Jose.

Image: Travis Wise/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size