Santa Clara okays 49ers-sponsored referendum; San Jose Giants fight San Jose A’s

It was another action-packed day yesterday in Northern California’s South Bay, as the Santa Clara city council resolved its dueling stadium referenda quandary by putting on hold its own ballot measure for a $937 million 49ers stadium, and instead endorsing the ballot initiative being pushed by the 49ers. If the team referendum can’t gather enough signatures by March, the council would still have the option of putting its own measure up for vote.

In addition to enabling the 49ers to avoid any legal challenges to the vote on environmental-oversight grounds — as stadium site landholder Great America is trying to do in its lawsuit — the team-sponsored ballot item is seen as being worded more favorably to (duh) the team, with no mention of several pieces of the financing, including $330 million in bonds that would be sold by the stadium authority and hopefully repaid by the team. There were also some complaints about the title of the initiative: The Santa Clara Stadium Taxpayer Protection and Economic Progress Act. “I don’t think the city should defer to allow an advocacy piece to go before the voters,” said Will Kennedy, one of two councilmembers to vote against the measure.

Meanwhile, the possible relocation of the Oakland A’s to nearby San Jose got an unexpected opponent yesterday: the San Jose Giants minor-league baseball team, which is helping form a group called Stand Up For San Jose to oppose using public funds for a new stadium. While they make some good points — including that land and infrastructure costs weren’t included in the city’s economic impact study — it’s worth noting that the San Jose Giants, in addition to being in line to be displaced by the A’s, are also one-quarter owned by the San Francisco Giants, who are trying to avoid losing control of the San Jose market. Looks like we could be in for another elephant-fight-by-proxy.

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9 comments on “Santa Clara okays 49ers-sponsored referendum; San Jose Giants fight San Jose A’s

  1. Interesting how the SJ Giants effort is being financed by SF money as well as they refer to a group number 60 strong..”many of which are Santa Clara County residents”. Humm…need some help on their geography to understand that his is a SJ effort alone—but also seems as if it provides some insight as to what we can expect to happen to territorial rights in the near future

  2. Thank you Neil, for stating that the 49ers ballot initiative contains no mention of the $330 million that Santa Clara’s agency, the Stadium Authority, will be required to raise through the selling of personal seat licenses, naming rights, and vendors contracts. The $330 million is also not mentioned in the Term Sheet. You have to go back to an April 2007 proposal on the city’s website to find mention of the $330 million. And the team is not on the hook for any of that money-it is Santa Clara’s responsibility alone. Most of that money will be in the form of bonds, with interest to repay. The city has not told us what will happen if/when the $330 million cannot be raised.

    Once again the majority of our city council rolled over and gave the 49ers exactly what they wanted (the 49ers initiative on the ballot instead of a city council written initiative, which would be open to additions/corrections by the citizens of Santa Clara.

    If the 49ers initiative get put on the ballot, then the first group in line to write the rebuttal (opposition to the measure) on the ballot is – wait for it – the Santa Clara city council. Want to bet that the rebuttal will be untruthful and incredibly watered down?

    After the meeting last night, one long time Santa Clara resident, age 75, told me that in 50 years of living in Santa Clara, this is the worst city council he has ever seen. Want to see how bad our city council is? You can watch videotapes of the council meetings online on our city’s website.

  3. SCT:

    It does all seem a little one sided, doesn’t it? I’m saddened to see this in your neck of the woods, but it is the rule rather than the exception isn’t it? For whatever reason, city councils just fall all over themselves to lavish (public) money on billionaires. There’s no accountability, and often no oversight on spending. As I’ve said in other forums, I don’t so much have an objection to “any” public money going to sports facilities. The argument can be made that public money builds other facilities for particular segments of the population (theatres, opera houses, parks etc). However, I am always outraged that it is the private funding commitment that has a rigid cap, while the public component floats as needed to build the facility the club wants, and damn the torpedoes.

    If an owner came seeking $125M for infrastructure and agreeing to pay all other costs themselves, I wouldn’t object. Of course, it’s almost always the opposite. “We can do something everyone can be proud of (if someone else pays)”.

    This has to stop. Maybe it’s time fleeced taxpayers started filing lawsuits against retired/expelled elected officials for their shameful and costly decisions? Too bad they are protected…

  4. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Great America (next door to the stadium and currently suing Santa Clara) just sold itself.

  5. {{If an owner came seeking $125M for infrastructure and agreeing to pay all other costs themselves, I wouldn’t object. Of course, it’s almost always the opposite. “We can do something everyone can be proud of (if someone else pays)”.}}

    As long as there are enough suckers to get sucked into the sucker’s game, there will continue to be cheapskating practiced in the ownership hierarchy.

  6. I have now run into 4 paid signature gatherers in front of grocery stores in Santa Clara. They tell me they are being paid by the signature. One of them told me today that the 49ers are putting this initiative on the ballot because the city council hasn’t put an initiative on the ballot-and that signing the petition was the way to get a measure on the ballot about the stadium. That is not true. The city council voted to put a stadium measure on the June 2010 ballot and was prepared to write a ballot measure when the 49ers announced at the Dec. 8 council meeting that they were going to gather signatures for their own initiative. On Dec 15 the council majority voted to go along with the 49ers initiative. The council can put their own initiative on the ballot if the 49ers can’t get enough signatures. For paid signature gatherers to tell people that the only way to get this on the ballot is to sign the 49ers petition is just false. And one of the paid signature gatherers told me the language in the 49ers initiative is exactly the same as what the council would have written-which is also false because the 49ers initiative is an ‘advocacy piece’ and not impartial, as council member Will Kennedy pointed out.

  7. Isn’t there some legal requirement that the signature gatherers tell the TRUTH?? Next time anyone approaches you to sign something, demand a copy of the issue. And, proof of what they are telling you. Maybe arm yourself with a tape recorder??

    Something is really rotten when the only way to get the signatures is to LIE!! If the 49ers want this so badly … PAY FOR IT YOURSELVES!!! You won’t need to worry about EIR challenges, voters, etc. Otherwise … STAY IN SFO!

  8. The group Santa Clara Plays Fair is collecting information about how people are being lied to by the 49ers signature gatherers. Please see the website:
    and follow the links to their blog.
    I was at a brunch on Sunday and heard more stories about how the paid signature gatherers are lying to people. Remember, they are being paid by the signature, so there is an incentive for them to get people to sign. The only requirement for being a signature gatherer is that they have to be a registered voter (as per our last city council meeting Dec. 15th). They do not have to live in Santa Clara.

  9. I too, have encountered several paid signature gatherers in front of grocery stores in the last week. I even had one knock on my door several evenings ago. The gentleman that knocked on my door, was not only professional, well spoken, but knew the issue, as well. I have ran into him at the Safeway on Homestead on several occasions. In my first encounter, he helped me register to vote at my new address. When I questioned him regarding the City Council’s plans of placing it on the ballot, he explained to me that “The City Council still has the opportunity and ability to place a ballot initiative on the June ballot, but whether they actually do so, is up to them.” While it is kind of annoying to be asked so many times to sign their petition, I do understand why there are doing it. I still have not made up my mind on whether I will vote yes or no, if enough signatures are obtained. Overall, I feel the issue is NOT being misrepresented and it does give ALL voters the opportunity for their voice to be heard. Elmer Watkins

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