Sharks, Google settle over downtown San Jose development

SAP Center

The Sharks on Tuesday backed down from their vocal opposition to Google's plans to expand into downtown San Jose, with the San Jose City Council announcing a settlement between the NHL franchise and tech giant moments before unanimously approving the proposal.

Sharks Sports & Entertainment agreed not to sue Google nor the city of San Jose after addressing the Sharks' concerns over the effect development near the Dirdon train station would have on parking at SAP Center.

Google and San Jose modified its proposals after the city's planning commission on April 28 unanimously recommended approving the Downtown West project, agreeing -- among other things -- both parties will work with the Sharks to make sure at least 2,850 parking spaces are available within one-third of a mile of SAP Center's south entrance.

“Sharks Sports & Entertainment (SSE) has long been a proponent of the urban planning vision that the city has for the Diridon Station Area, including Google’s Downtown West project, so long as it does not endanger the viability and success of the city-owned and SSE-managed SAP Center,” Sharks spokesperson Scott Emmert wrote in a statement published by Bay Area News Group.

The Sharks and NHL had expressed concerns -- and even outright opposition to -- the project for years.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told NBC Sports California at the 2019 NHL All-Star Game that the league hoped "everything's done to protect the ease of access to this building," specifically referring to BART's expansion into San Jose and Google's plans.


Last November, Sharks president Jonathan Becher wrote in a letter to fans, "the planners of these projects appear intent on moving forward in a manner that could force the Sharks out of San Jose."

Fewer than two weeks later, Becher told reporters it "[seemed] more likely now than before" that the city and Google would address the Sharks' concerns.

"Our message was heard loud and clear," Becher said Nov. 20. "I am more optimistic now."

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The Sharks' lease with the city runs through 2025, with annual options to renew until 2040. Google's development, which is set to include as much as 7.3 million square feet of office space and 4,000 housing units, could begin construction on roads, infrastructure and buildings within the next two years.

“The city and Google absolutely hear the Sharks’ critical need for efficient access and have worked to incorporate many of Sharks Sports & Entertainment concerns,” San Jose deputy transportation director Jessica Zenk said in Tuesday's city council meeting (H/T Bay Area News Group).

“We firmly believe that the Sharks will be able to succeed and, in fact, thrive with the proposed project as its neighbor, particularly given all the new people and access brought to live by this project.”