Why Santa Clara Needs A Downtown and More Entertainment

Why Santa Clara Needs A Downtown and More Entertainment

By Robert Haugh

If you’re young, or young-at-heart in Santa Clara, you know that there’s a lack of options for dining, nightlife and entertainment.

There are no arcades or bowling alleys and  just one corporate movie theatre. Only a few local arts organizations are active with regular performances: Santa Clara Players and Roberta Jones Junior Theatre. Sure, there’s Santa Clara Chorale and a few other niche-type arts groups that seldom have events. But there are few true attractions here in the Mission City. Most events at Levi’s Stadium are expensive.

Santa Clara Billiards closed and was subsequently given the bulldozer. Starting Arts, which began in Santa Clara, now calls San Jose home. Comedy Sportz, originally located in a Santa Clara strip mall, moved to San Jose.  Moonlite Lanes shuttered its doors suddenly. Other local hotspots like Tinker’s Damn and The Hut have closed.

Santa Clara does have K1 Speed indoor karting, Sky High Sports and City Beach Sports. Of course, if golf is your thing, we have the nine-hole Pruneridge golf course and driving range, and the Santa Clara Golf & Tennis Club.


Some local municipalities have a downtown area, like Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale, or Castro in Mountain View, or the blocks near SAP Center in San Jose. These cities have very walkable options with restaurants, bars, nightclubs and intimate performance venues.

Santa Clara needs to find ways to engage and retain businesses that bring in entertainment and things to do for residents. Many in Santa Clara flock to San Jose, Sunnyvale, Mountain View and even as far as San Francisco to get out and enjoy themselves.

While we continue hearing about aging infrastructure, what are we doing to attract fresh and innovative options to bring more entertainment and nightlife options to residents? Are we too concerned about housing that we forget the needs and wants of a younger and more diverse workforce? Is our Chamber of Commerce actively working to bring in popular and unique restaurants, retail outlets and performance-type and arts groups?

CityPlace and the Great America expansion have incorporated some nice features and attractions that’ll assist in filling the nightlife and entertainment void. However, those are all in the Northside.

The Old Quad area of Santa Clara, and much of Santa Clara is facing increasingly dilapidated parks with little new or fresh updates.

Santa Clara needs a new and multi-purpose performance venue or district to help fill the void left by so many departing entertainment options.  The closest we have to a true Downtown is Santa Clara Town Centre – as great as the former Mervyn’s Plaza is for shopping and dining, you still need to go beyond Santa Clara to enjoy cocktails, karaoke and nightlife.

If you’re looking for something fun to do as a young adult, you’re likely heading a few miles down El Camino, in either direction. As was said during the Measure J campaign for the stadium, “If You Build It, They Will Come.” We need more than football and a few concerts.


  1. Great and so very true in all regards! Also, to be mentioned is the fact that if done right like Campbell, etc it can bring revenue into the city and other things like events during the weekend for its citizens and others….currently much more than our Farmers Market. Are you listening Mayor and City Council!!! There is more to the citizens than Levi Stadium for our city!!! ‘Build it and they will come’

  2. #1 reason for a new downtown – so the Old Quad residents stop whining and crying about how the Mahan families tore down the old downtown.

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