From Shanghai Sunday (Sept. 12), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pitched Silicon Valley -- and Mountain View's Moffett Field -- as the site of the 2020 World Expo. Local officials are buzzing about the possibility of using Moffett Field to host the event, which may bring tens of millions of people to the area for six months.
The Bay Area Council, which lobbied Schwarzenegger to back the Silicon Valley location, has been talking about Moffett Field as a potential site for the world's fair, said Bill Berry, president of University Associates, which is leading the effort to build a major UC campus at Moffett Field.
The proposition, as Bay Area Council president Jim Wunderman describes it, is music to the ears of government officials. 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, at no cost to taxpayers.
"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 Mercury News. "Everything that's built could be used for a whole multitude of purposes, whether academic, business-related or nonprofit."
A free university could be a dream come true for the cash-strapped University of California and its partners who are trying to build a major campus at Moffett, including the Foothill-De Anza Community College District.
"We're on hold right now because of the economy, but that would be a good way to jump start the project," Berry said of the World Expo and efforts to build a major university at Moffett.
A former United States Naval Air Station, Moffett Field is over 800 acres of federally owned land. Much of it is unused, including dozens of vacant Navy buildings that are soon going to be demolished for the university and NASA Research Park development. It is also 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.
While plans are far from being drawn, planning a world's fair for as many as 600,000 people a day could likely result in new infrastructure for not just the southwest corner of Moffett but "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 has been called that city's "economic stimulus package." 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.
Schwarzenegger is currently visiting Shanghai for the 2010 World Expo and made a pitch on Sunday for a 2020 World Expo in Silicon Valley.
Silicon Valley is up against numerous other areas vying to be the site, 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. The 2015 World Expo will be held in Milan.
The last World Expo in the U.S. was in 1984 in New Orleans. It was also held on Treasure Island in 1939 and 1940.
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.