Mountain View Voice

News - September 17, 2010

Will millions flock to Moffett Field for World Expo?

Governor, NASA back Moffett as site for world's fair in 2020

by Daniel DeBolt

From the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai on Sunday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pitched Moffett Field as the site of the 2020 World Expo, an event that could bring tens of millions of people to the area for six months.

"Shanghai has demonstrated that when you host the World Expo, the world comes to you, and I want the world to come to California," Gov. Schwarzenegger said in a news release. He added that Moffett Field is surrounded by "some of the largest and most respected companies in the world."

According to a fantastical conceptual sketch from the Bay Area Council, the runway and airfield at Moffett would be replaced with a waterway and promenade, among other structures. Moffett's large hangars would be turned into exhibition halls. At the north end would be a ferry terminal on the bay and a "Google pavilion" near Google's undeveloped Moffett property.

On Monday, an official for Moffett's main land owner, NASA Ames Research Center, said he was surprised by the idea, but supported it.

"If they can put this together and win the bid, NASA would be willing and able to be part of the team," said Lewis Braxton III, deputy director of Ames, according to news reports. "It was a bit of a surprise, but we're all elated because NASA Ames is all about being at the forefront of technology, and world fairs have always demonstrated what the world can look like 50 years into the future."

On Saturday, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo added her voice to the chorus of support for the idea.

"For 150 years, World Expos have gathered nations from around the globe to celebrate their cultures, exchange ideas, and demonstrate their latest innovations," Eshoo said in a statement. "Silicon Valley is the ideal place to welcome the world to innovation and creativity. Moffett Field represents the perfect venue for economic, scientific and industrial leaders to gather and share their knowledge."

Lobbying for the idea is the Bay Area Council, which represents 270 Bay Area companies. BAC President Jim Wunderman says that as many as 70 million visitors would boost business in the area for six months, plus hundreds of acres of new infrastructure would be built that could be re-used by businesses and universities for years to come.

"Perhaps we could even create a Silicon Valley campus for the University of California, for free!" writes Wunderman in a recent opinion piece for the San Jose Mercury News. "Everything that's built could be used for a whole multitude of purposes, whether academic, business-related or nonprofit."

The cash-strapped University of California and its partners, including the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, are trying to build a major campus at Moffett.

"We're on hold right now because of the economy, but that would be a good way to jump start the project," said Bill Berry, president of University Associates, which is leading the effort to build a major UC campus at Moffett Field.

A former United States Naval Air Station, Moffett Field is over 1,800 acres of federally owned land. Much of it is unused, including dozens of vacant Navy buildings that are soon to be demolished for the university and NASA Research Park development. It is home to NASA Ames Research Center, a U.S. Army and Air National Guard presence, numerous private companies and a lightly used but very large airfield. But it could soon be used to hold exhibits from Silicon Valley and around the world.

Planning a world's fair for as many as 600,000 people a day could likely result in new infrastructure, not just for the southwest corner of Moffett but for "the entire place," Berry said.

It might even spur restoration of Hangar One. The iconic black and white structure's 1,100-foot length and 200-foot high ceiling creates a sense of wonder that is hard to top.

The 2010 world exposition in Shanghai is being an "economic stimulus package" for that city.

Academics in China estimate an $11.6 billion net economic impact from the Shanghai Expo on the surrounding region, which benefited from $40 billion worth of roads, subway lines and airport terminals, according to a news release from the governor's office.

Vice Mayor Jac Siegel noted that 600,000 people a day attend the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai and that Mountain View should probably expect similar traffic in the area. He said it could spur development of transportation improvements to and from downtown.

Siegel said he couldn't imagine the City Council not supporting the event, which would be "phenomenal."

When asked about the traffic that would result, he said, it will only be for six months. "It's not forever," he said.

In vying to host the event, Silicon Valley has competition from around the world, including the American cities of Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

The event happens every five years and is governed by the Bureau International des Expositions in Paris. California and the U.S. will submit the formal Expo 2020 candidacy application in 2011. The Bureau is expected to announce the winner at the end of 2012, according to the release.

The last World Expo in the United States was in 1984 in New Orleans. It was held in the Bay Area on Treasure Island in 1939 and 1940.

Bay City News contributed to this report

Comments

Posted by wayne grant, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 16, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Dear Governor Terminator:

It's true the machines have taken over. I'm just trying any outlet trying to get my unemployment check. All I get are recorded messages. For almost 2 months now. Since the recall it seems you've been up there for ever. I'm still trying to figure out for what? Surely Gray Davis thanks you. I can't. And along comes terminator clone big purse Whitman to further humble humans with more promises from the rich and famous. You politicians have no problem finding funds for pet projects like Shanghai Expo. Where's my check?


Posted by Mr. Negative, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 18, 2010 at 12:25 am

Well Bay Area Council (remember you are unelected) thanks for putting in an application BEFORE getting any public input. Now let's see some detailed cost estimates and what the hit to the taxpayers will be.
Way before my time, Montreal had a big cost over run and a whole bunch of elected officials lost the next election. >> Look at what happened to Greece after spending all the money on Olympic infrastructure. <<

Look at what happened to Chicago's Olympic bid - it got considerable neighborhood opposition, and that helped keep Chicago out of the final rounds.

Some places have a big payoff for exhibitions and Olympics - Squaw Valley in California for Winter Olympics and Barcelona for Summer Olympics, Innsbruck in Austria, and others.
These area usually have a tourist industry, and were little known before the event.

Few people in the world have heard of Google, Intel, Apple, Yahoo, or Silicon Valley. This project will really raise the Bay Area's profile, now won't it ? This project is effectively a BIG ADVERTISEMENT for the Bay Area. Is that a good use of taxpayer money ? How many teachers, police, hospital workers will need to be cut to pay for this ?


Posted by Melissa, a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 21, 2010 at 11:58 am

Dear Mr. Negative,
I do understand your point of view, however, I must say that your comment "Few people in the world have heard of Google, Intel, Apple, Yahoo, or Silicon Valley" suprised me. Google is pretty much known all over the world. I am not sure how well known all of the other names are around the world, but I do know that Google is known everywhere.


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