Moffett a serious contender for World Expo
It appears more and more likely that the World Expo will come to Moffett Field in 2020, along with a new local landmark, tens of millions of visitors and hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to backers of the event at the Bay Area Council.
In what will be a worldwide competition to host the six-month event, spokesman John Grubb said the Bay Area Council (BAC) is confident about Moffett's chances. Grubb said the United States' "most stalwart competitors" so far are Turkey and Thailand, with the possibility that Russia may join the fray as well. Within the U.S. there are efforts to bring it to Minneapolis and Houston, but talks are underway to get World Expo backers in those cities to unite behind Silicon Valley.
There's a long list of other cities and countries where efforts are underway, but most appear don't appear to have heavy backing, Grubb said. "If ever there was a situation where someone could launch a webpage and be taken serious, this is one of them."
Within days, the BAC expects to release an economic impact report which will estimate the event's financial impacts, including those to Mountain View businesses. A feasibility study will follow later this year, Grubb said.
A bid by the U.S. would have the support of the head of the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), Vicente Loscertales. "I would very much like to have" a World Expo in the U.S. "before I retire," he said in a recent podcast by the World Expo museum.
If the U.S. is selected by international representatives in the BIE, Moffett Field could host large exhibits from countries around the globe and Silicon Valley companies could also compete for attention with displays.
According to World Expo tradition, a landmark building is typically left behind, Grubb said. Examples include Seattle's Space Needle, the Eiffel tower and the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
Applications are due from countries by November, and an Expo will be awarded in January 2013.
"No one's really got a site like Moffett Field," Grubb said of the U.S. cities in the race. Moffett provides over 500 acres in the center of Silicon Valley, access to Highway 101, a light rail station and it's not far from the train station in Mountain View's downtown, which will probably become a major hub of traffic during the event, Grubb said.
Loscartales says it's important that the World Expo fit into the area it's held in and that it leaves behind useful buildings. In Moffett's case, a group of universities, including the University of California and Foothill-DeAnza Community College District, say it's a perfect opportunity to spur the development of a major college campus slated to go in next to the Moffett airfield at NASA Ames Research Park. The campus would be built before the Expo, and would be leased for use as an Expo Village, Grubb said.
World-class Silicon Valley exhibition
"We hope this will be the most sustainable World Expo ever held," Grubb said. Emerging themes for the event have repeatedly pointed to three words, "sustainability, innovation and space," Grubb said. NASA Ames, which controls Moffett Federal Airfield, and Google have expressed a major interest and have been very involved in World Expo discussions, Grubb said.
One idea is to make Moffett into "a model of how you deal with sea level rise," as Moffett sits at the edge of the bay and could be inundated if the sea rises, Grubb said.
The event would take place on Moffett's airfield, which would be temporarily covered over. Government agencies such as the Air National Guard and government contractors, including Lockheed, will have to go without an airfield for at least eight months, Grubb said. It's possible the Air National Guard will be able to launch its rescue missions from San Jose Airport instead. It may also be asked to provide security at the event, maybe getting some new facilities at Moffett in the process. The BAC has yet to talk to each airfield user, but so far Grubb said the talks have been promising. There are several private users of the Moffett airfield, but none have leases through 2020.
The U.S. has not had a World Expo since 1984 in New Orleans, and the State Department is being prodded to resume paying its dues, 24,000 Euros, to the BIE.
If Moffett wins the bid, the State Department would create a governing body to run the event, which would include local city officials, Grubb said.
E-mail Daniel DeBolt at firstname.lastname@example.org