Quakes begin demo at proposed stadium site

Speed of SJ stadium build could hinge on landing naming sponsor

SAN JOSE, Calif. – As the steel jaws of a giant excavator snapped shut Thursday on a chunk of wall from the old manufacturing facility where the Earthquakes hope to one day play soccer, San Jose general manager John Doyle couldn’t help but smile.

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“For everybody here, all the soccer fans in Northern California, this is a great day,” Doyle said. “We’ve always wanted a place that we could go and watch soccer. We haven’t had that. We’ve been waiting for a long, long time.”

WATCH: Quakes begin demo of proposed site

A representative from Devcon Construction, the project’s overseer, said demolition of the vacant plant – which most recently used to manufacture M2 Bradley fighting vehicles before closing in the mid-1990s – is expected to take 60 to 90 days.

Doyle, who spent five years in San Jose as a player, is looking forward to having “a place that we can call home” after watching the Quakes play on the campuses of San Jose State and now Santa Clara University.

“[Somewhere] where we have the best stadium around, where we can impart our will on our opponents that come in, win championships, win games,” Doyle said. “I can’t wait to walk into that new stadium.”

Team co-owner Keith Wolff said the 18,000-seat building will be “more of a European-style stadium. It’ll be the most intimate stadium in all of MLS and the best place to watch soccer.”

The several hundred fans on hand to take part in the celebration booed only once, when San Jose City Council member Sam Liccardo listed some of the club’s past glories and mentioned former-star-turned-archrival Landon Donovan’s name.

“We are becoming increasingly soccer-crazed,” Liccardo said. “This is our future.”

How far away that future lies is still undetermined. The Quakes waited nearly a year after receiving permission from the city to start demolition in order to make the deal more financially viable by decoupling the stadium construction from development of the surrounding live/work areas, the rationale being that Silicon Valley’s commercial real estate market is still at low ebb.

A major determining factor in the speed on construction may be if new president David Kaval, who was hired in part to help jumpstart the stadium process, can land a naming sponsor. The team has had numerous discussions but no success to this point on that front.

Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes