Issue Briefing: Downtown Stadium
CCA Recommendation – Oppose
A local developer is proposing to use city controlled land adjacent to the downtown BART to erect a soccer stadium. It isn’t approved yet, although early in 2019 the Concord City Council approved entering into an 18 month “exclusive negotiating agreement” with him – a process for hammering out details. The City Council can withdraw from the agreement or choose not to approve the project at any time. CCA encourages you to contact your city council member about this – click here to sign our petition opposing the downtown stadium.
There are many reasons to oppose this proposal. In addition to the problems of potentially serious traffic issues and disruption of the local neighborhoods, the proposal would take land designated for housing – something seriously needed in Concord – and replace it with an entertainment venue. Public land should not be used for this private benefit, but for the common good. The project would also create mostly low-paying seasonal jobs, and minor league soccer teams are notoriously unsuccessful as business ventures. For these reasons and more, the Concord Communities Alliance opposes the downtown stadium plan. Here’s more information.
Who wants to build What Where and Why?
Who is behind the push for a soccer stadium in Concord?
A successful Walnut Creek businessman by the name of Mark Hall, the president and CEO of Hall Equities Group (HEG). In January 2019, Concord City Council decided to enter into an initial exclusive negotiation agreement (ENA) with HEG regarding a large-scale development project centered around the proposed stadium.
Of all things, why a soccer stadium?
In addition to being a real estate mogul, Mr. Hall is now a sports venturist. In 2017 he acquired a United States League (USL) soccer team. Now, Hall needs to find or build a facility to house this new investment.
Hall first attempted to get something going in Oakland, but his efforts failed. He has since turned his attention to Concord, a city he believes hosts an ideal location to build a stadium for his soccer team.
Mr. Hall’s many local connections are likely to make this ambitious project more viable. One such connection is Joseph Garaventa, who has spent tens of thousands of dollars helping to elect Concord’s council members in the past. In 2018, Mr. Garaventa was named president of Hall Sports Ventures. Taking relationships like this into consideration, it’s not unlikely that Hall believes our city leaders will be more open to “playing ball” than Oakland was.
Why downtown? Why not out in the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS)?
Timing. It’s CCA’s understanding that there is a time frame in which Hall must house his team. For numerous reasons, CNWS is not shovel-ready and won’t be for several years. However, the City-controlled plot of public land in downtown could be, depending on how Concord City Council votes.
Downtown Stadium FAQ
Would the stadium house a major league soccer team?
No. The stadium is for Mark Hall’s United States League (USL) soccer team. Think “minor league”.
How big would this stadium be?
The current proposal is for an 18,000 seat stadium (same size as the Earthquakes, San Jose’s Major League team). As a concert venue, seating capacity would increase to 24,000 (twice that of the Pavilion’s capacity). The structure would span from the police station to where BART’s north parking lot is. That section of Mt. Diablo Street would be sacrificed, similar to what BofA did between Willow Pass Rd and Oak St.
Is it true the Concord Pavilion is going away?
Mark Hall is working to convince the City to sell him the Concord Pavilion. He proposes to level it and replace it with housing. This way, his stadium would be the only game in town, concert-wise. The City is currently generating revenue through the Pavilion.
What about parking?
Mark Hall asserts that most people would walk or take public transit to the stadium for games and events. Part of the plan also includes replacing the existing BART parking lots with a structure intended to accommodate both BART riders and stadium-goers.
What’s this I hear about a Convention Center too?
Somewhat unrelated to the stadium, Hall plans to build a City-owned Convention Center and multiple hotels owned by Hall Equities Group (HEG) over the existing north-side parking lots of the BART station.
Does this project put the skate park at risk?
Also apart from the stadium proposal, Hall plans to build over the existing skate park. HEG has met with local skate park advocates and has agreed to build a new park on the other side of the BART tracks.
Is this a done deal?
No. While 4/5ths of City Council did vote to enter into an initial 18-month exclusive negotiation agreement (ENA), the stadium has not been approved. At the time of the ENA decision, Council seemed warm to the stadium, but opinion can absolutely change between now and then. Public outcry is essential to ensuring this.
Is the fenced-off construction along Galindo and Oak Street related to this?
No. According to Concord’s Public Works Department, that activity is BART. They’re using their land for equipment storage related to track maintenance. It has nothing to do with the HEG proposal.
What can I do to stop this stadium?
Tell the City Council what you think. Share your thoughts on social media. Talk to your neighbors. Discuss with your community group, your church, or your HOA. Attend a Concord Communities Alliance meeting.
Sign the CCA petition asking the City Council to stop the proposal. Click here to do that.
CCA’s Position on the downtown statium
The Concord Communities Alliance does not support the proposal to build an 18,000 seat soccer stadium in downtown Concord. We encourage the City Council to understand these problems with the proposal in particular:
- The proposed site is on public land. Such land should be used in a more equitable manner – such as housing – rather than for the benefit of a private developer.
- The proposal violates Concord’s Downtown Specific Plan, which the City has been committed to for 5 years now. The site is designated for housing, not a stadium (see picture below).
- The disruption to nearby residents and surrounding neighborhoods is unnecessary and unwelcome.
- The only jobs a stadium would bring to our community would be low paying and seasonal.
- Compared to major league teams, minor league soccer teams struggle. If the developer’s team goes under, Concord is left with a massive monument to poor decision-making as our city’s centerpiece.
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