San Jose Earthquakes owner Lew Wolff was the keynote speaker at the Soccer Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SSVCF) annual dinner at the Fairmont Hotel Saturday night. At a highly anticipated event, Wolff showed a 10-minute video presentation that included architectural designs of what the proposed soccer stadium across Coleman Avenue from the Mineta San Jose International Airport will look like, once corporate sponsorships are finally secured.
SSVCF is a not a booster club—they are not technically affiliated with the Earthquakes. Instead, they are a 501(c)3 nonprofit, a local soccer fan-based philanthropic organization. Most of the evening involved status updates on several of their projects.
For example, in collaboration with the Blue Star Moms, they sent soccer balls to Iraqi children. They organized a bunch of Quakes fans to join the “Light the Night Walk” for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. They brought several different groups of at-risk teens to Earthquakes games. Along with History San Jose, they created the Soccer Legacy Project, a collection of more than a thousand museum-ready San Jose-related soccer artifacts and memorabilia. They created the Andrew Bedard Memorial Spirit of the Game Award, named after a young Earthquakes fan who passed away at age 8 in 2004. The list went on.
Several San Jose movers and shakers attended the function, including more than a few normally characterized by their ceremonious indifference to the San Jose Earthquakes. Aside from most of the San Jose City Council, those in attendance included Larry Stone, Pat Dando, Cindy Chavez and Carl Guardino. In a somewhat sappy speech, Guardino introduced Lew Wolff, comparing the Quakes owner to Moses, complete with a synopsis of the Joshua and Caleb story from the Bible.
“Wolff is a man who concentrates on the opportunities, not the obstacles,” Guardino said.
Wolff then took the podium, explaining that he actually does have plans for a soccer stadium, that he is in this for the long haul, and that these plans are just the next step.
“I want to show you what we’re thinking about in the design of a new stadium,” he announced. “This is a vision of what we’re planning.”
The stadium design is focused on enhancing the fan experience and features a European-style canopy roof that will keep sound inside the bowl to help create one of the best home-field advantages in Major League Soccer. Every seat in the stadium will also provide fans with great views of the field and a close connection to the action.
Wolff claims the facility will be unlike anything else in the league. The stadium design has a horseshoe shape with the open end facing Coleman Avenue. The open end features a state-of-the-art high-definition video board with two sides. One side is viewed from inside the stadium, while the other side is viewable from a one-acre expanse, including an area called the Scoreboard Club. Between the Club and the field, fans will be able to watch the game from a grass berm, another element emulating a European scenario, that is, where fans can buy cheap tickets to watch the game while standing. The open end of the stadium will also have a family picnic area that will be utilized for pre and postgame events and activities.
“We’re looking at 15,000 [capacity],” Wolff explained. “Plus the berm and the standing room areas would get it to twenty.”
The stadium was originally intended to be part of a multi-acre mixed-use development project including 1.5 million square feet of office space, 75,000 sq ft of retail space, plus a 300-room hotel. The plans were to develop all of the area simultaneously, but due to the economic downturn, Wolff negotiated an option to purchase a smaller portion of that property from the city in order to move forward with the stadium first.