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.