As fans are aware with our announcement today, the new San Jose Earthquakes stadium will now be opening in the second half of 2014 as opposed to the beginning of the season. We will play the first part of the season at Buck Shaw and then transition into our new home when it is complete.
The delay has been due to numerous unforeseen challenges related to the site during demolition and grading, while we were getting the site prepared to pour foundations and erect steel. I know that many fans are disappointed with the delay. I am frustrated myself. The development of the stadium has had many ups and downs and I appreciate all of our fans’ willingness to stick with us as we navigate these challenging circumstances.
In the spirit of transparency and openness with our fans, I want to let folks know exactly what has happened over the past several months and where we stand with the project and the next steps. The good news is that the craziest stuff is certainly behind us. We will be pouring foundations over the next 45 days. The steel is ordered and being fabricated in Stockton and the date to start erecting the steel is set for November and December.
The obstacles we have faced over the past six months have been immense. We found over 70 vaults, sub-vaults, basements, and over 250 massive underground pilings on the site. The vaults and basements were originally built by the Food Machinery Corporation (FMC) in the middle of the last century as bomb shelters. They were later converted into storage for a wide variety of items that were used in the construction of the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
The demolition team nicknamed the vaults, "icebergs" as they never knew how big each one was going to be when they opened it. Several of the vaults were larger than an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Some went down several stories. Many were filled with old tank parts. Some had desks and other random junk. It was almost like opening a time capsule every day. The largest vaults took over 30 hours of continuous battering by three or four massive excavators to dislodge. Our demolition team brought in some HUGE excavators to do this work. It was amazing to see it happening in person. Those huge piles of rock you see at the site are all that remains from the concrete slab, vaults, and pilings. The rebar and huge metal scraps have been recycled already.
These vaults and other materials below the soil did not show up on the plans of the factory building that we reviewed nor in any of the borings that were done prior to the start of demolition. So, despite our best efforts to anticipate any complications, these challenges could not have been predicted.
The second to last vault had a fun surprise in it for everyone involved in the project. We opened it up and found hundreds of strange cylindrical objects covered in a white substance. Everything stopped as we evaluated the strange objects. It was classified as some type of munitions. That’s right: tank ordinance or rounds. We all spent some time refreshing our knowledge on UXOs. Luckily for us, after ten days of analysis we determined that the munitions were no longer explosive and an experienced crew could dispose of the explosives. It’s always nice to catch a break. Disaster was averted but the delay was real.
In addition to the vaults and cellars, we also had to navigate over 50 wells on the site, both extraction wells and monitoring wells that are part of the water remediation system. In order to avoid damaging this important system, we could not operate heavy machinery around the wells and this slowed down the demolition in those areas.
The other factor that occurred at the same time was the large lake (affectionately known as Lake FMC by our construction team) that folks have seen on the webcam. We spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to fill in the lake that was caused by the high water table at the site. Since we had had to dig down so far to eliminate all the vaults and basements, the groundwater filled the open holes and we ended up with a lake.
Our number one objective has been to ensure that we have a great stadium when it opens next year. We do not want to make a short-term decision that compromises that in any way. Frankly, that is more important than the schedule and we are focused on building the stadium the right way so it lasts for generations as our home ground.
I encourage fans to reach out directly to me via email at President@sjearthquakes.com, via twitter at @QuakesPrez, or at my office hours on Tuesdays from 3-5 p.m. to ask any additional questions about the stadium and its construction. We are also planning a special Google Hangout this afternoon to discuss the stadium and solicit questions from fans.
The nice thing is that we now have the demolition stage behind us and the rough grading is now in place. We have also mostly filled in the lake. Foundations can be poured in advance of the rainy season and steel can be erected this fall. We have a great partnership with the City of San Jose and they have been very helpful as we secure all of the building permits. We also have a fantastic team working on the stadium, from a top-notch general contractor in Devcon Construction to our world-class project manager, David Albert.
It’s not unlike the team we have on the pitch. A strong, well-seasoned group that is especially good when playing from behind; a group of Goonies if I have ever seen one.