Soccer stadium proposed for Concord

A proposal to build an 18,000-seat soccer stadium in Concord near the downtown BART station will return to the City Council on Tuesday.

The City Council initially was to consider on Jan. 8 whether to sign an "initial exclusive negotiating agreement" with Walnut Creek-based Hall Equities Group LLC for the proposed mixed-use site with a stadium, hotels, a convention center apartments, and retail/commercial space. The proposal calls for transforming a vacant lot at the intersection of Galindo and Laguna Streets.

However, the item was continued to Tuesday after the developer requested modifications to the proposed agreement. City staff wrote in a report that the modifications were acceptable "because they are either minor changes or are not critical at the IENA stage."

Hall Equities Group is owned by Mark Hall, who has acquired the rights for a United Soccer League team.

 "It's right in the heart of the downtown corridor," said Hall. "It's two blocks from Todos Santos Plaza with all the restaurants and retail. It's a very nice environment." 

He said the site's vicinity to the downtown Concord BART station makes the location ideal for a stadium that will also double as a concert venue.

"The East Bay, Concord, Walnut Creek, is really Ground Zero for soccer participation in Northern California," said Hall. "It's a really strong market here for soccer. I felt that there was more room for soccer than just the San Jose Earthquakes." 

He said his interest in soccer stems from his development of a youth sports training facility in Walnut Creek that's set to open in April. Hall said he sees the stadium as an extension of helping youth soccer players.

"We will be able to offer a pathway to professional play from youth training," he said.  

If approved, the agreement would open the way for formal studies of the project's feasibility and its possible fiscal impacts.

The proposed site includes land owned by the city as well as land owned by BART. If the city approves the project, Hall would also need BART's approval since it owns some of the land Hall wants to develop. 

A staff report prepared for Tuesday's meeting includes emails from several residents who oppose the project, saying it would cause increased congestion in the downtown area.

"The traffic is terrible. Kids can't play in the streets anymore," said neighbor Alva Barbee. She said parking in the area is already difficult.

But neighbor Chris Hunt sees it differently,"I think it's an exciting proposition. I'd love to see something good come of that vacant lot since we moved here." 

Tuesday's meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the City Council chamber at 1950 Parkside Drive in Concord.

Bay City News contributed to this report.