By Judith Herman
In recent informal polling, Concord residents overwhelmingly opposed a proposal to build an 18,000- seat stadium in downtown Concord. Between July 18 and August 22, members of the Concord Communities Alliance (“CCA”) offered a simple yes / no question on a downtown stadium 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. 88% of the nearly 400 poll participants opposed the idea of a downtown soccer stadium. In follow up discussions, the most common reasons for their opposition were negative impacts on traffic, and disruption to the residents who live near the proposed site, which is former redevelopment agency land adjacent to the Concord BART station. Many were not opposed to developing the area but rejected the stadium by a significant margin.
On January 22, 2019 the Concord City Council approved 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 a larger project, including a soccer stadium. Four city council members supported this step. Laura Hoffmeister was opposed. Vocal public comment against the IENA and the stadium was offered at the city council meeting. On May 8, Kelsey Barclay of Hall Equities Group made a presentation on the project to CCA members. 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 if he received those three votes from the city council, he would proceed.
It would be the responsibility of each council member to determine the basis on which they cast a vote on this issue. The Concord Communities Alliance is on record opposing the downtown stadium and has posted a petition to oppose the proposal on their website.
Hall has entered into a license agreement with the United Soccer League to operate a minor league soccer team in the East Bay, including Concord. He has a limited amount of time to house that team in a venue. Laura Nakamura, a founding member of CCA and advocate for tenant protections in Concord, observed that “Concord doesn’t have a stadium problem, it has a housing problem. Mark Hall has a stadium problem.”
To learn more about Concord Communities Alliance, go to www.concordcommunitiesalliance.org.