Much attention is being paid these days to the outdoor ice skating rink being installed by a subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks on Old Bernal Avenue for the coming holiday season.
As much fun as that will provide the 10,000-20,000 expected to use it, it was the decision last week by the Planning Commission to approve the design of a permanent two-story, four-rink ice arena in Staples Ranch that will have a long-lasting economic impact for Pleasanton going forward.
Like the holiday ice skating rink, this new ice arena will be built and operated by the Sharks' San Jose Arena Management (SJAM) group. Its location is in a long-planned 17-acre Staples Ranch Community Park, with the Sharks using 8 to 10 acres for the arena and surrounding parking. In its petition to planners, SJAM upped the square footage from the original 116,000 square feet to 141,679, about the size of a typical Home Depot. Only the land lease has yet to be signed with negotiations continuing on how much financial help SJAM will provide for other community sports and park projects that at one time were planned for the Staples Ranch site.
SJAM operates all of the facilities associated with the Sharks, including the HP Pavilion where the hockey team plays, and "Sharks Ice" rinks in San Jose and Fremont, which are similar to what the group plans for Pleasanton. The new rink will offer everything related to any type of ice sports. These include both competitive and amateur hockey, hockey and skating teams for boys, girls, men and women, special ice hockey programs for the local high schools, figure skating, recreational skating and also special programs for the disabled. The Sharks' operators will also sponsor competitive meets that will draw crowds from throughout the region, adding to the economic benefits to Pleasanton.
An ice skating facility has been a long time coming to Pleasanton. Many will remember the hot August night nine years ago in the Senior Center when players with the Tri-Valley Blue Devils hockey team, dressed in full uniform, pleaded with the Bernal Task Force to build an ice arena on the newly-acquired Bernal Community Park. That didn't happen, but the Sharks' offer to build and operate its own arena here is better for Pleasanton financially and so is the location.
The arena site as part of the 124-acre Staples Ranch development project will be built alongside the planned four-lane extension of Stoneridge Drive that will connect to El Charro Road and Livermore. There, an expanded four-lane overpass has just been completed that connects to Dublin with a full interchange at interstate 580. That will allow the thousands of ice skating and ice hockey aficionados to easily reach the new Sharks arena from anywhere in the Bay Area without traveling on Pleasanton streets and Pleasanton fans also to reach the arena on Stoneridge without having to use the freeways.
With the Planning Commission's approval, the Sharks arena plan can now go to the City Council when it considers the full Staples Ranch development in the next few months.