A multi-million-dollar regional ice skating rink planned by a subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks in Pleasanton's new Staples Ranch park could be up and running within two years following the City Council's unanimous approval last Tuesday to move forward on the project.
The council approved a series of core objectives that would govern a ground lease for the 7-acre, two-story ice rink and hockey complex. Representatives of San Jose Arena Management, which would build and operate the facility at no cost to the city, have already indicated they would agree to the numerous stipulations imposed by the City Council. Once written into the lease agreement, the contract would go back to the council within 90 days for final approval.
At that time, the project would begin the routine process of being reviewed by the city Planning Commission and then again by the council before construction permits could be issued.
Already, before the ground lease is finalized, SJAM has indicated it will work with city officials to install and operate an outdoor skating rink this winter. City Manager Nelson Fialho said the rink would be located in a section of the parking lot between the Civic Center and the public library, using the parking stalls and a parking lane alongside Old Bernal Avenue.
According to plans, the Sharks would open the rink during the Thanksgiving holiday week and operate it through early January.
The outdoor rink was one of the stipulations imposed by the council in its list of requirements in approving the ice rink ground lease. Other requirements include an agreement with the Pleasanton school district to provide ice time to physical education programs and school hockey teams and to offer discounts to Pleasanton residents.
The 7-acre site where the Sharks ice arena would be built lies east of where Stoneridge Drive currently terminates and west of El Charro Road, the eastern boundary of Staples Ranch. The facility would occupy a 17-acre community park, which the Sharks subsidiary also will develop with sports fields and other amenities.
At Tuesday's meeting, the Sharks were also asked to make a substantial contribution toward more sports fields on the Bernal property to compensate the city for athletic fields the rink would occupy, and also to contribute to the downtown Firehouse Arts Center Foundation fundraising drive.
Staples Ranch is a 124-acre site at the southwest corner of I-580 and El Charro Road that is unincorporated and owned by Alameda County. Other developments planned for Staples Ranch include an auto mall at the northeast corner of the site at the I-580-El Charro Road interchange planned by Hendrick Automotive; a 600-800 unit independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care facility for seniors, planned by CLC Continuum, a Southern California-based senior care organization; and a retail store complex between the park and the auto mall, to be developed by Fremont Land developers. In addition, the developers of these three parcels and the Sharks also will pay for a 5-acre neighborhood park on the western side of Staples that would be developed by CLC but maintained as a public park by the city of Pleasanton. It would include a 3.5-acre water runoff detention system.
A required Environmental Impact Report for the entire site has also been completed and accepted. The deadline for filing comments passed earlier this summer with few comments.
Only two of more than 20 speakers at the council's public hearing on the proposed ground lease contract Tuesday night questioned the agreement.
John Carroll said he has yet to hear back from an email he sent to city staff April 1, 2007 questioning financial arrangements being made with the Sharks and urged the council to halt negotiations until the answers are made. He said the proposed $1 a year lease over the life of a 30-year contract is "not what it should be," and urged he council to insist on a bond upfront to cover any shortfall by the Sharks subsidiary or its default.
Richard Pugh also asked for a surety bond and suggested that the lease term be cut from 30 years to five or 10.
At Councilman Matt Sullivan's urging, those requests were included in the upcoming negotiations between city staff and the Sharks subsidiary, although the 30-year lease provision stayed in place.
Chamber of Commerce President Scott Raty and former Councilwoman Sharrell Michelotti urged the council to move forward on the project, which they said had been delayed too long already.
"There is a point at which the deal breaks," Raty warned. "We have to stay on top of this so that we don't kill the golden goose by delays."
Attorney Pat Kernan, who represents the Sharks subsidiary, said the Sharks have already had a discussion with the school district to develop skating programs for high school students. He said between 700 and 800 kids are enrolled in ice skating and hockey programs in SJAM's facility in San Jose, which is identical to what the subsidiary is planning in Pleasanton.
Fialho said the Sharks project will be fourth in line as the Planning Commission and City Council consider the four major projects on Staples. Hendrick Automotive will be first so that the firm can get started on building a new auto row for Pleasanton. CLC with its senior housing will be second, followed by the Fremont retail center, and then the Sharks. The process could be completed by mid-2009.
The proposed Sharks ice complex would operate from 5:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily and would include four rinks, a family style sports restaurant, a sports bar, pro shop and public meeting rooms.