Every seat in the spacious City of San Jose council chambers main auditorium was filled, and, save for a few neighborhood dissenters, every one in attendance was decked out in blue and black. For those without seats, the upper concourse was filled with a standing-room only crowd craning for a view of the proceedings. The latecomers to City Hall that evening waited patiently outside the glass double-door entry hoping to hear good news.
One year ago today, on February 22, 2012, the City of San Jose Planning Commission voted unanimously to deny the last remaining appeal to the San Jose Earthquakes land-use permit for their proposed new soccer stadium, paving the way for the club to finally realize its dream of playing in its own facility.
The celebrations went well into the night after the announcement, and the entire MLS community expressed excitement that another team would be making the move to a soccer-specific stadium. Almost immediately, club officials began the exhaustive process of compiling all the plans and information that would be necessary before construction could begin. The team wanted to get all the details correct, and was not going to rush to start without a solid and complete plan in place.
All quiet on the summertime front, the club rewarded supporters for their patience with a Guinness World Record groundbreaking ceremony in mid October. With blue shovels for all in attendance, over 6000 fans took part in the ceremony on the very plot of land where the Earthquakes field of dreams would one day be laid. The dust soon settled, and the club went back to work on securing permits and planning with contractors.
Meanwhile, the Earthquakes ticket sales office has been busy selling seats in the new 18,000 capacity stadium with an eye to a 2014 opening. Luxury boxes were sold by the summer, and club seats were also quickly snapped up. And as the team on the field marched toward the 2012 MLS Supporters’ Shield, season tickets were being assigned to fans in all sections of the new stadium.
Though the expansive cement pad on Coleman Avenue in San Jose stayed idle through the winter, Earthquakes officials were gearing up for site preparation to begin before the start of the MLS regular season. With the first of many permits in hand, the club announced that construction would begin on February 26.
One year ago, a “Build It Now” sign-waving brigade of Earthquakes supporters descended on City Hall to express their support for the new facility. A week from now, with construction starting just a chip shot away from the George Best Gate, 10,000+ fans will congregate for the 2013 Earthquakes home opener in the first match of the last season at Buck Shaw Stadium. And in a year’s time, a date players, coaches, officials, and fans have been waiting on for nearly four decades in the South Bay, a shrine to the beautiful game will open its gates and welcome a new era of San Jose soccer.