Pleasanton officials have announced that a subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks will install and operate an outdoor ice skating rink at Delucchi Park in downtown Pleasanton, with skating scheduled to start in mid-November and last until early January.
City Manager Nelson Fialho said San Jose Arena Management (SJAM) will design, build and operate the rink, with the city providing additional electrical and other infrastructure improvements as needed, but with SJAM assuming all other costs, including all liability. SJAM also also will provide staff needed to manage and operate the rink and was given the right to seek sponsors for the temporary seasonal facility as well as individual skating events.
Delucchi, which already has public restrooms, is located on First Street between Angela and Neal streets, backs onto downtown's commercial district and is next to Farmers Market. It is also used during the summer to accommodate overflow crowds at the Friday night concerts in the park at Lions Wayside Park on the other side of Neal, and for Thursday night movies in the park during the summer months.
The downtown park replaces an earlier site that was considered for a portion of the Civic Center and public library parking lots on Old Bernal Avenue. The Library Commission objected to closing its parking lot for as much as two months during the skating period and downtown merchants urged the city to consider a site closer to their stores.
"We think this will be a very good location and a great event for Pleasanton," City Manager Nelson Fialho said yesterday. "We expect it will bring many families downtown, both to skate as well as to dine and shop."
Downtown merchants, led by Towne Center bookstore owner Judy Wheeler of the Pleasanton Downtown Association and Melanie Sadek of Murphy's Paw on Main Street, earlier praised the city's plan to provide outdoor ice skating during the busy holiday shopping season. They said the 20,000-30,000 skaters and their families who are projected to use the rink would help boost business at downtown restaurants, shops and services.
"We're committed to making this work," Sadek said. "As a business owner and mother, I believe that bringing the Sharks rink to downtown Pleasanton will be fantastic."
The agreement with SJAM to operate a downtown rink was previously approved by the City Council in a 4-1 vote with Councilman Matt Sullivan dissenting. He said that the proposed name of the rink—Sharks Holiday Ice—could sway public opinion when the firm's proposed two-story, four-rink ice arena on Staples Ranch comes before the council for approval.
"There's an inherent conflict of interest here," Sullivan said. "At the same time we're negotiating this ice rink downtown, which we want very much for our businesses, we are also negotiating an agreement for Staples Ranch. I can't keep them separate and this could, and probably will have a mitigating impact."
"While there are a lot of people who support it (the Staples Ranch ice rink), there are a lot of people who do not want the Shark rink built on Staples and are very concerned about it. If we (the city) want to put this facility downtown on our own, I'd be willing to talk about it."
Although plans for an auto mall and senior care center have been approved for Staples Ranch, SJAM and the city are still negotiating a ground lease for the Shark subsidiary's plan for the ice arena.
Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and the three other council members who voted to allow the downtown outdoor skating rink called it good for Pleasanton residents and downtown businesses, especially at a time when restaurants and stores are feeling the effects of a slow economy.
City Manager Nelson Fialho said the nearest holiday season outdoor rinks are in Walnut Creek, which attracts as many as 40,000 skaters and their families each year, and in San Francisco and San Jose.
As proposed, the rink would open in mid-November and stay open through early January, with skating available from noon to 10 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.
The city will pay an estimated $20,000 in up-front costs for additional electrical power, water and voice/data lines, including temporary signage, to be reimbursed by ticket sales and sponsorships arranged by SJAM.