Quakes President Dave Kaval will join other Bay Area sporting executives as well as entrepreneurs and practitioners to lead a panel discussion about the perpetually changing In-Stadium sports experience. The talk, "The Reinvention of the In-Stadium Experience", will open at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 300 California Street, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA.
A crucial component of the fan experience, stadiums are adapting their designs to maximize enjoyment for their team's followers. With the Quakes' new stadium set to open in 2014, San Jose's President Dave Kaval has devoted significant time to evaluating and analyzing stadium designs for the benefit of the Quakes' faithful. San Jose's new stadium will feature state-of-the-art entertainment amenities while maintaining an intimate experience.
After hoisting the 2012 Supporters' Shield, the 2013 Quakes will play their final season at Buck Shaw. All the while, Dave Kaval and staff will be working fastidiously to perfect the Quakes' soccer-specific stadium.
For the full story on the panel discussion, click here.
David Kaval: President, San Jose Earthquakes (MLS). Co-founder, Golden Baseball League.
Chip Bowers: Chief Marketing Officer, Golden State Warriors. Former Senior VP, Orlando Magic and Seattle SuperSonics.
Bill Crockett: Director of Sports Architecture, AECOM. Has been the architect of record for NBA, NFL, NCAA, and Olympic stadiums and arenas.
Evan Owens: Co-founder and CEO, Pogoseat (innovative mobile app for live-event seat upgrades)
6:00 – 6:15 Pregame: Snacks, drinks, networking (maybe some stretching)
6:15 – 7:05 Game: Panel: “The Reinvention of the In-stadium Experience” followed by Q&A
7:05 – 8:00 Postgame: Networking, drinks, and football playoff's chatter!
SJEarthquakes.com sat down with long-time season ticket holder Rober Blackburn to hear his insight on all things Quakes. The Bay Area resident spoke about his time as an Quakes fan, the benefits of being a season ticket holder, and the success of the Goonies in the seasons ahead.
When did you become a fan of the Earthquakes?
I moved to the Bay Area in 2001. I went to the Western Conference Finals in 2003 against the Kansas City Wizards. The Quakes beat the Wizards 3-2 in overtime and I had a great time. I had a friend take me to a few games in 2005 as he was a season ticket holder. The World Cup came out in high definition in 2006 but the Quakes had moved to Houston by that time. Once they came back in 2008, I became a season ticket holder and have been one ever since.
What was your favorite Quakes’ moment?
My favorite Earthquakes moment was Steven Lenhart's winning header against Seattle this past August, 2012. We had played well and led 1-0, but they [Seattle] put in 3 difference makers for the equalizer in stoppage. For us [San Jose] to come back immediately and win with just seconds left was a big statement, and something very special and very rare in soccer.
What was your favorite Earthquakes’ game?
My favorite Earthquakes game was Aug. 3, 2008 when [David] Beckham and the Galaxy played the Quakes at the Oakland Coliseum. The Quakes went up 2-0, and the Galaxy came back to tie it. Ryan Cochrane scored the go-ahead goal with a couple minutes left to give the Quakes the 3-2 victory. Long-story short, Beckham hated to lose. He walked over to the sideline after the game and handed his jersey to my daughter. We have framed it along with the tickets. It was a great experience.
What have been some of the benefits of being a Season Ticket Holder?
During my first couple years as a season ticket holder, we got nice blue portraits and could get everyone’s autograph. I really liked that a lot. I am a VIP season ticket holder and the game day experience with the food and parking is great. I love the game experience as a whole and the VIP package.
Photo: Surveyors were on site Monday, another step as the club prepares to begin construction after the New Year.
The New Stadium blog will feature updates regarding the club's development project on Coleman Ave. Keep an eye out for Q&As, photos and breaking news about the facility. This week, SJEarthquakes.com features Part 2 of an interview with club president Dave Kaval about the latest new stadium developments.
SJEQ: One of the topics of discussion is the Supporters’ Section. You have been working with the club’s Supporters to finalize the design of this area – could you talk about the process and what decisions you’ve made?
DK: It’s been great. We worked with each of our different groups – the Ultras and the Casbah – to work on what they felt was the best set-up for them. I think one of the positives that came out of those discussions was to create a club area where our Supporters can congregate right on the pitch, adjacent to their seats and the stands, where they can have their own area to arrive early, make and set up tifo, enjoy their own food and beverage options and have their own clubhouse and place to hang out. That’s one of the unique pieces to our stadium and I think will really enhance the Supporters’ culture; it gives them their own space that they can use – with some guidelines – to really develop their group and membership. The section will be right in the end zone and will be a centerpiece for everyone in the stadium to see. We’re happy to have worked with our Supporters on that. It’s a bit derivative of what Sporting Kansas City has done, but I think the biggest difference is that ours will be all of the end zone as opposed to the corner.
SJEQ: You recently hired a project manager for the new stadium. What can you tell us about David Albert?
DK: He has a ton of experience in Silicon Valley and has worked with Santa Clara University, managing a number of their projects. He’s managed projects with Devcon, our construction partner. We’re thrilled to have him. There are so many moving pieces on this project – not even just with our own, but with the developments in the surrounding area; the office buildings, community soccer fields, all that stuff needs to be handled in an effective way and we’re confident David is the right person for the job.
SJEQ: You walked right into our next topic. What can you tell us about the commercial development project surrounding the stadium?
DK: I think one of the key things to keep in mind is that this isn’t just a soccer stadium. This is a redevelopment project for North San Jose where we’re creating sort of a gateway into San Jose from Santa Clara off Coleman Ave.; what a difference this place will be from the days when it was a tank factory, creating a beautiful 18,000-seat soccer stadium, four community soccer fields, our training complex, a really awesome development around the facilities with bars, restaurants and commercial development – we’re really proud to be spearheading this whole thing. Obviously, this massive project will occur in phases.
I think one of the key things to keep in mind is that this isn’t just a soccer stadium. This is a redevelopment project for North San Jose where we’re creating sort of a gateway into San Jose from Santa Clara off Coleman Ave.
SJEQ: Could you give fans an update regarding the community fields being built on the site?
DK: We’ve been working with Interstate Grading and Paving, the contractor for those fields, and have met with the City of San Jose. The project is in its design/development phase. They’re going to have four fields going in as well as a fieldhouse, restrooms and concessions. Each of the fields will be lit and they’ll be located next to our current training field. We will manage these fields once they’ve been built and our academy will train there, which is an added benefit. It’s a big development and an important one that shows the synergy between our stadium project and the community developments surrounding it.
SJEQ: What other events do you expect to house at the new stadium?
DK: In terms of sporting events, rugby is one that we’re looking seriously at. We’ve looked at high school football and things of that nature. Obviously, the timing has to work out, but right now we’re focusing on laying out a schedule that would allow for these other events to come in while maintaining the playing surface for first team use. I also think there are opportunities for festivals and corporate events in the Epicenter. Over a dozen companies wanting to rent that area out for the hospitality or even for product launches have contacted me. I think that area will get even more use than we might have expected and so we need to be careful that we design the area to maximize use.
SJEQ: Speaking of corporations and the new stadium, where are we at in terms of naming rights?
DK: We’ve had in-depth meetings with the decision makers of a few Fortune 100 companies. We’re not ready to make an announcement yet, but we feel that we’ve made some great progress. There’s been more interest than we initially anticipated and we want to make sure that we partner with the right brand and find a partnership that furthers their marketing efforts while creating a great name for the new stadium – a win-win situation. These are long-term deals and so you have to make sure that you have the right partner and a partner that makes sense both for the team and the community.
SJEQ: The sales team has a unique bonus program while working through the seat selection queue. Could you shed a little insight on that program and why a certain ticket operations manager had to drop and give 10 push-ups at our last staff meeting?
DK: We have a cool incentive program built in for our sales reps that our vice president of sales Jared Shawlee put together where if you sell a seat, there’s a huge board with sticky notes; on the back of the note is a prize or a punk that you can play on your manager or director. For example, your manager might have to sing a song or do push-ups. It’s been a fun way to excite reps about the process. I think they’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and our staff has a high morale around the stadium project, but this is another way to make things interesting and invoke the spirit of the Goonies.
SJEQ: Is there anything else you would like to share with fans about the process?
DK: Overall, we’re excited to be in the thick of things with this project. There’s a tremendous amount of work going into this on a daily basis. We have structure meetings where we’re working from pretty much dawn until dusk with 360 Architecture and Devcon Construction. Big decisions are being made each day. We’re meeting with subcontractors and working on that side of the equation. We’re focused on making sure this project is done right and that our fans have a great product in the end.
The New Stadium blog will feature updates regarding the club's development project on Coleman Ave. Keep an eye out for Q&As, photos and breaking news about the facility. This week, SJEarthquakes.com sat down with club president Dave Kaval to discuss the latest stadium news. This post will run as a two-part series with the second installment to come on Thursday, Dec. 13. Topics included in the latter version will include: Supporters' Section, the new project manager, commercial development surrounding the project and naming rights. Stay tuned for more!
SJEarthquakes.com: Looking back on Groundbreaking Day, what was the most resounding memory that you have taken away from the event?
Dave Kaval: The thing about the groundbreaking day that was really special to me was how many people from the community turned out to support our effort. One of the really cool things was people who brought their own shovels because it showed such an organic support that everybody showed up to support the team and the stadium project together. There were a couple of moments where I saw families with shovels of all different sizes and that was one of the coolest parts.
SJEQ: What was the idea behind Groundbreaking Day?
DK: In thinking about what type of team we are, we’re very close with the Bay Area community and we have a great relationship with San Jose; we’ve been here over 40 years and I wanted a groundbreaking that wasn’t a golden shovel event with owners and executives – I wanted something where everybody could participate. That’s what we are – we’re an accessible team that’s connected to the community in a unique way and I felt that breaking a Guinness World Record together was an embodiment of that philosophy.
"Right now with the Environmental Impact Report, we were limited to 18,000 seats – we think that’s a great number to start with and we’ll have a great demand for those seats, but over time we can decide to enclose that last end." ~ Kaval on new stadium's horseshoe design
SJEQ: Now that the club has set a precedent for involving the community in the construction process, should fans expect to be included in future milestones?
DK: Absolutely. I think as we look at many of the milestones to come, whether it’s erecting the first steel or putting in a seat, I want to make sure that we have a system in place where our fans and the community can be involved.
SJEQ: Now that ground has been broken, what’s the next step?
DK: We’re getting the permits now from the City and that’s a huge step. We’ve been working with the folks in the planning department to get the necessary approvals so we can get ready and break ground in terms of the actual superstructure. That’s something that will happen early next year and will take through 2013 to build the stadium. We’re doing everything we can to get to that date, to make sure that the stadium is designed correctly, we have all the amenities in there and that it’s a great facility for our fans.
SJEQ: Back in October you mentioned 2014 as the target opening date. Is the project still on that timeline?
DK: Yes, we’re still on track to open on time for the 2014 season. We’re very excited about that. We have one more year at Buck Shaw, but in 2014 we’ll have our new home open.
SJEQ: As I understand it, you’re working to finalize seat selection in the coming weeks. What options are you looking at?
DK: We’ve been solicited by a number of different seat providers, each group totally different. Some have been from Australia, the U.S. We’re trying to make sure we select seats that will last a long time and provide a quality viewing angle as well as comfort for our fans. We’re working through those particulars and with vendors to select a seat that we can install later next year.
SJEQ: Obviously there’s a lot of smaller decisions that go into constructing a stadium – what’s one decision you’ve had to make that you didn’t think about going into the process?
DK: There’s so many small things that you have to think about every day to keep the project moving forward – where elevators go, how many stops elevators make, what type of door an elevator has – stuff that is so mundane you wouldn’t think about making that decision. We had a big discussion about blow driers in restrooms and what type to use. Sometimes you have paper towels, sometimes it’s a mix of paper towels and hand driers. Who knew that would become such a big decision? I’m happy to say we got through that and we picked a hand drier that we think will be great. Those are some of the types of decisions we’ve had to make that you wouldn’t otherwise think about and I’m sure there will be many more to come.
SJEQ: Are there any other design considerations your executive staff are working through that you can share?
DK: One of the big things that we just finalized is the concourse design. We’ve determined the exact mix and locations of male and female restrooms, concessions facilities, operations space, etc. That was a really big step.
SJEQ: Are there any specific features you can share with the public?
DK: One of the unique things is our patio club on either end. Also, fans will be able to see the field from the concourse and I think that’s something people will really enjoy.
SJEQ: One of the great aspects of Buck Shaw Stadium is the proximity to the field. Will the new stadium sightlines be just as accommodating?
DK: The sightlines will be great. We have a slightly parabolic bowl with about a 32-degree angle, which is a pretty steep rake. It’s similar to Houston – we talked to a lot of folks there about the rake of their seats and what they were trying to accomplish. That’s a key part of the stadium’s allure and then also being able to see the field from the concourse, the accessibility, the connection to the pitch, you’re going to be so close to the action wherever you’re at in this stadium.
SJEQ: Why did the club decide to use a horseshoe-shaped design rather than a fully-enclosed version?
DK: One thing I think not all people understand about the stadium is why one side is open. First of all, the original idea was that we could close it in the future and add to the capacity. Right now with the Environmental Impact Report, we were limited to 18,000 seats – we think that’s a great number to start with and we’ll have a great demand for those seats, but over time we can decide to enclose that last end. Instead of building an oval with 18,000 seats and making it difficult to expand, we wanted to build the horseshoe because it makes more sense. That’s one aspect to the decision. The other is that it creates the Epicenter area; that’s the area on the open end, connected to the Scoreboard Bar and the field where people can gather before the game – similar to what we do at Buck Shaw, but much larger – where there can be fan zones, BBQ areas, food trucks, activation; we wanted a really fun, festival-like area that can be set up and allow fans a great pre-game experience. I think it’s an idea that fans will really appreciate when the stadium opens. It’s going to be actually inside the gates, which is something unique. The Epicenter will be part of the experience when fans attend Earthquakes games. In many ways, I think this will become one of our signature items.
Follow club president Dave Kaval on Twitter: @QuakesPrez