Shovels aren't yet in the ground, but the San Jose Earthquakes appear to be at least one step closer to starting construction of their planned 15,000-seat stadium near the San Jose airport.
Earthquakes owner Lew Wolff told the San Jose Mercury News that he hopes to have the stadium open by 2012 and no later than 2013.
What makes this statement different than previous pronouncements is that Wolff has apparently given up on the requirement that sponsorships and other aspects of outside funding for the privately financed stadium need to be in place before construction begins.
"We had hoped to have more sponsorship leading to the stadium," said Wolff, who is part of a group that also owns the Oakland A's. "Now, we feel we need the stadium under way before getting sponsorship where we want it."
A new stadium has been a key component of bring the Earthquakes back ever since Wolff and A's ownership partner John Fisher bought the expansion rights in 2006. The team began play in 2008 in Santa Clara University's Buck Shaw Stadium, but the roughly 10,000-seat stadium has always been seen as temporary. In September 2009, plans were unveiled for a $60 million stadium that would be three-sided and feature grass seating on the open end. Last March, land adjacent to Norman Mineta International Airport was zoned for the stadium.
The proposed site is just outside of downtown, easily accessible off the freeway and near existing rail lines and a proposed BART station.
Assuming the stadium gets built, that would leave DC United as the only MLS franchise actively looking for a new home. The New England Revolution, while playing in less-than-ideal Gillette Stadium, don't appear to be in any hurry to move from a stadium their ownership already controls.