Lew Wolff Unveils Earthquakes Soccer Stadium Plans

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.


  1. Congratulations, Lew, you have done it, and you should be thanked and applauded.

    We hope

    a) that the silly supramacist Bill Bailey, a person with limited abilities, does not hijack your work to prove one of his inane points about the 49ers Stadium.  Wolff’s work must and should stand on its own.

    b)  That Hilgerson, the guy dismissed for downloading Bulgarian Prison Guards at work does not attempt to torpedo the excellent Earthquakes Stadium design by claiming it is near the airport. 

    c) that people who live near the proposed stadium, Mary E of the Maoist Brigade of Newhall, does not try to use your success against you.  Wolff is a man of great dreams who can make them realities.

  2. An interesting point about this proposed stadium is the Santa Clara County Airport Land Use Commission is currently working on the new Airport Land Use Plan for San Jose International.  This plan will bring the airport up to current safety standards for airport property, and property around the airport.

    The land for the proposed soccer stadium falls into the new up-to-date safety zone standards, and it is directly under the flight pattern for the general aviation runway (11/29).  It also is the highest noise area (70db average over 24 hours, periods of 110-120db during flight operations) that is not on airport property.  See figures 3a, 3b, 5, and 7.

    http://www.sccgov.org/SCC/docs/Planning, Office of (DEP)/attachments/ALUC/San Jose International Airport/ALUC_maps.pdf

    Once the ALUC plan for SJI is adopted it appears the stadium will not be allowed to be built, as it will endanger both the spectators in the stadium, and aircraft that need the safety zone for an emergency landing.  Apparently, the powers that be are aware of this, and are trying to force the stadium through before the ALUC plan is adopted so that it will be grandfathered in after the new plan is in place.

    While this might not appear right, it is the way politics works.   

    http://www.sccgov.org/portal/site/planning/planningchp?path=/v7/Planning, Office of (DEP)/Plans & Programs/Airport Land-Use Commission

    • SkyKing,
      Looking at the maps you reference the stadium land is actually partially in the 65 db noise range, and partially out of the 3 designated ranges altogether. Also under this new plan the land remains zoned light industrial and is not under the general aviation flight path, nor in the inner safety zone. It lies in the turning safety zone only, along with what appears to be hundreds of other buildings, residences, etc… north, south and west of the airport. So not sure what your argument is here.

    • “The land for the proposed soccer stadium falls into the new up-to-date safety zone standards, and it is directly under the flight pattern for the general aviation runway (11/29). ”

      How can that be?  The stadium is on the other side of Coleman from the airport.

    • DRAFT means the Airport Land Use Plan is in progress, and it has to be approved by the ALUC.

      After the ALUP is approved, the City of San Jose has the power to override the ALUP for SJI if it wants the stadium.  Of course, if the stadium gets pushed through before the plan is approved then the City does not have to go on record as overriding the ALUP.  They simply say the stadium was there before the new plan.  The legal term is called CYA.

      However, that does not change the fact the stadium is located in the safety zone, and is a hazard for both fans and aircraft. The safety zones are established by the FAA.

  3. Did Pele know this at Shea Stadium.  Here we have another Nimby using what little knowledgew he has, since he forgot to discuss the 9/11 protocols which put the soccer stadium well within a safety zone, and also that Buck Shaw is also in the flight path as well as Muni Stadium.

    SKY KING=HILGERSON, and a guy unhappy.

  4. It looks like the stadium already went through an ALUC review back in March of this year and was approved. So, SkyPilot, what again are you trying to say?

    • At least you bothered to do some research.  However, it was approved under the 1992 ALUP plan, not the plan currently being developed.

      “Approved that the rezoning request is consistent with the ALUC height, noise and safety
      policies for San Jose International Airport, as defined in the 1992 Santa Clara County
      Comprehensive Land Use Plan”

      http://www.sccgov.org/keyboard/attachments/Commission Agenda/2009/June 24, 2009/202442485/TMPKeyboard202726469.pdf

      Since I am talking about the plan under development with new safety zones, approval would not be guaranteed.  Hence, the stadium is in a bad location, and should be moved to a better location.

      Apparently, the rush to get the stadium in place is going faster than expected.

      • Hey Sky,
        This was discussed in the Airport Land Use Commissions recommendations that were presented on March 25.  The were approving to the ALUC plan that was in place at the time (1992 ALUP).  The commission was aware that the stadium (and Lowes for that matter) were out of compliance for the new (2009)  ALUP that is still being developed.

        Bottom line:  It was approved and doesn’t require reapproval to the new plan when it comes out.

        • Thanks for validating what I said.  The stadium is in a safety zone and should not be at that location.  Rushing the stadium approval process through the system before the new ALUP is approved, while legal, is not good public policy.

          Thanks again.

        • I did not read anywhere where anyone said the ALUC rushed the stadium approval through, or that the ALUC did not do anything that was not transparent.  In my mind the ALUC is one of the more professional commissions in the county. 

          However, the ALUC approved the stadium under the 1992 ALUP in effect at the time.  They could not do otherwise since the stadium development fell within the 1992 guidelines.  There was no legal way to not approve the stadium.  Of course, there really was no pressing reason for the request to have been submitted at that point in time, unless one wanted to get it approved before the new plan was in place. 

          The point is the stadium is situated in a safety zone under the upcoming plan, and probably would not be approved under the new plan.  If something is going to be wrong in the future then it probably is wrong in the present.  As you said “The commission was aware that the stadium (and Lowes for that matter) were out of compliance for the new (2009)  ALUP that is still being developed”.  I suspect that if the ALUC knew the site would be out of compliance under the new plan then the city and developer also knew that.  Hence the apparent rush to get it approved.

          All I am saying is that putting 20,000 people in an aircraft safety zone is not a good idea.  It is bad public policy.  It might be legal, but it is still wrong.  There are other locations where the soccer stadium can be located.  There is a reason why safety zones are defined around airports, and that reason is not to provide land for sport stadiums.

          Also, I want to comment on the FAA noise contour boundaries mentioned above.  The FAA averages aircraft noise over a 24 hour period in order to make the aircraft noise foot print appear smaller than it actually is when aircraft are operating.  If the 75db, and higher, noise boundary was computed based on aircraft noise that occurs during game time (let’s say from 12PM to 10PM) then it would be a much larger foot print, and extend outward way beyond the stadium.

        • There’s really no evidence this was rushed through.  It was approved in March and the new ALUP still hasn’t been finalized.

          After reading the documents it’s pretty clear that the ALUC was open, honest and clear about the changing standards and how they were evaluating the proposed stadium.

          Making a $1.5B private development deal (Airport West) wait for an undetermined amount of time while the county figures out a future land use policy would be bad public policy. 

          What the ALUC did do was good, transparent public policy.  They should be commended for that.

          BTW – it passed unanimously.

    • Earthshaker, good research and follow through.  We know in our hearts Sky King is trying to say, I HATE THE STADIUM.  We had Au Nguyen in Santa Clara testifying that birds would eat sandwich wrappers and then, dizzy from the toxic waste of the sandwich wrapper, they would crash into the jets.  THIS IS NGUYEN’S ACTUAL TESTIMONY AT THE 49ER STADIUM EIR HEARING.

  5. Interesting discussion.  This just reinforces what I have been saying for some time now.  San Jose International, at its present location, is ruining downtown and Santa Clara County.

    Moving it Hollister will free up the 1050 acres used by the airport for better purposes.  Moving it to Hollister will free up an even larger amount of land by not requiring safety zones, building height limits, and other restrictions that stifle San Jose. 

    In today’s paper there was a story about the condos downtown not selling.  While the Mercury, in its usual biased manner, blamed the economy, the main reason why condos are not selling is because there is an airport downtown.

      • Who needs a fancy new stadiums next to a noisy airstrip??

        Any old field would do just fine.

        You can see the action much better watching TV.

        With TIVO or VCR one can replay in slow motion lousy and questionable calls.

        Save much money on entrance fees, overpriced hot dogs and soft drinks.

        You can switch channels when the game invariably gets boring.

        Where’s Krazy George when you need him?

        Kids love to play soccer, but few Americans want to watch this game where they run back and forth, back and forth (kind of like basketball or tennis). Often as exiting as baseball, sailboat racing, even par with golf. 

        If you want to build a stadium then do it next to a horse racing track!! That’ excitement!
        Or better yet big huge horses pulling heavy sleds up and down small hills like they do in Japan.  An interesting combination of speed, power and stamina, where the fastest horse and sled may not have the stamina to get to the finish line.

        pgp3 who flunked high school PE (bad attitude).  For required college PE (under age 20) I took “Social Dancing”. Stepped on a lot of toes. Finally got a B the second semester. That and typing were my most productive and life-enhancing school classes.

        pgp3 of Surf City, USA

    • In today’s paper there was a story about the condos downtown not selling.  While the Mercury, in its usual biased manner, blamed the economy, the main reason why condos are not selling is because there is an airport downtown.

      Funny.  I thought the condos weren’t selling because the real estate prices have crashed, and you can now buy a house in a decent section of SanJo for the same price as what those downtown condos are currently asking.

      I’m having a tough time understanding why people are advocating for moving SJC to a location that would place it closer to Salinas than it would to San Jose.

      As to the stadium, well, we’ve all seen this dance before.  In the past, it was called “Cisco Field.”  Before that, it was the South Campus Stadium Project at SJSU.  Until shovels actually start moving dirt, all we are seeing is vaportecture.

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