86% of polled Concord residents say “No” to stadium

When asked their opinion on the proposed 18,000 seat stadium in downtown Concord, residents overwhelmingly opposed the project. Each Thursday between July 18 and August 22, members of the Concord Communities Alliance (“CCA”) informally offered a simple yes / no question to attendees at the Thursday farmers market and music events at Todos Santos Plaza in downtown Concord. The results were consistent across each date, and across the five different city council districts.

Each day’s polling results are below. 88% of those responding opposed the idea of a downtown soccer stadium. The most consistent reasons for their opposition were negative impacts on traffic, disruption to the residents who live near the proposed site, and crime. The proposed stadium site is former redevelopment agency land adjacent to the Concord BART station, and is bordered by Galindo, Laguna and Mt Diablo Streets. The site is located in City Council district 2, as is Todos Santos Plaza. While many were not opposed to developing the area, the stadium component was rejected by a significant margin.

On January 22, 2019 the Concord City Council moved forward with an Interim Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (“IENA”) with the Hall Equities Group, whose principal is Mark Hall, a Walnut Creek resident. This 18-month agreement gives Hall exclusive rights to study the feasibility of building a soccer stadium as a part of a larger proposed development, which includes a conference center, hotels, and housing. Four city council members supported this step – Tim McGallian, Mayor Carlyn Obringer, Edi Birsan and Dominic Alliano. Only Laura Hoffmeister was opposed. Vocal public comment against the IENA and the stadium was offered at the city council meeting (go to CCA’s Listen Up Concord podcast). In response to this opposition and prompted by the City Council, Hall undertook steps to solicit community input on the proposal. Birsan and Obringer must run for re-election in 2020 in council districts 4 and 2 respectively.

CCA Meets with the Developer

In the spring, CCA decided to investigate the downtown stadium proposal further, and to prioritize a campaign to raise awareness on the issue. On May 8, CCA members met with Kelsey Barclay of Hall Equities Group to obtain details, ask questions, and offer input. Late in May CCA members met with Barclay and Hall in a follow-up meeting. During that meeting, Hall was asked what he would do if a majority of Concord residents opposed the proposed stadium. Hall indicated that all he needed to proceed was three votes on the City Council, and that if it he received three votes on the council, he would proceed.

Hall has entered into a license agreement with the United Soccer League to operate a minor league soccer team in the broader East Bay area, including Concord. He has a limited amount of time to house that team in a venue. Under the Downtown Specific Plan approved in 2014, the site of the proposed stadium is zoned for mixed use, including high density housing. That Plan would have to be amended to accommodate the building of a stadium. The Plan took nearly 18 months to complete, including an intensive community outreach program.

Laura Nakamura, a founding member of CCA and regular advocate for housing affordability and tenant protections in Concord, observed that “Concord doesn’t have a stadium problem, it has a housing problem. Mark Hall has a stadium problem.”

The Concord Communities Alliance exists to prompt Concord residents to share their perspectives about issues of important to all Concord residents. While we don’t expect we will all agree on everything, we do believe that dialogue will help us identify the path forward that works best for everyone.

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