Can Santa Clara stadium opponents avoid Arlington activists’ fate?

The San Jose Mercury News has a nice profile today of the opposition to the San Francisco 49ers stadium plan in Santa Clara (including a photo of frequent FoS reader and commenter Chris Koltermann). The article compares the Santa Clara battle to the similarly funding-deprived opposition to the Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, but notes that opposition to public subsidies is much stronger in California, adding:

Arlington’s [stadium activist Wayne] Norred says the “No” side has an advantage in Santa Clara that wasn’t a factor in the Cowboys’ campaign: Two City Council members, William Kennedy and Jamie McLeod, oppose the project. Arlington’s City Council was 9-0 in favor of the Cowboys deal.

“That shows a crack in the city’s political structure on the thing,” he said. “If they are moonbats, you have a problem. But if they are reasonable people, that helps.”

Speaking of the Cowboys stadium, its price tag has now officially hit $1.2 billion. This isn’t a problem for Arlington, since the team covers cost overruns, and shouldn’t be in Santa Clara, since the 49ers have promised the same (though there’s still the nagging question about revenue shortfalls). But it is an indication of how stadiums on paper never quite match up to actually existing ones.

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6 comments on “Can Santa Clara stadium opponents avoid Arlington activists’ fate?

  1. Since it was reported that the 49ers campaign has spent $1.4 million, donations to Santa Clara Plays Fair have increased, our No on J yard signs are going like hotcakes, and our website traffic is high. I’m walking precincts, and voters keep saying that ‘we are being railroaded’ by the 49ers and our city council majority and schools superintendent. (The schools superintendent is campaigning for the 49ers, appears in their tv commercial, and has held meetings with the teachers and the parents to strongly encourage people to vote for the stadium, because the school district will get a kickback from RDA funds by robbing other agencies, including our city’s General Fund. He has really alienated a lot of people who previously supported the school district’s efforts to get a parcel tax passed).

    Last night, someone swapped the No on J sign in our front yard for a Yes sign. We are dealing with people who have the mentality of high schoolers.

    And a great letter to the editor appeared in the SJ Merc today (April 2):

    “What are Measure J supporters hiding?

    Lawn signs are appearing throughout Santa Clara urging a “yes” vote on Measure J. The signs urge a vote for schools, for jobs or simply for Santa Clara. The signs do not state that Measure J is the 49ers stadium proposal. It seems strange that the 49ers’ $1 million-plus advertising campaign doesn’t have lawn signs that ask citizens to vote “for a stadium.”

    There are better ways to support our schools and create jobs for the short term. If the stadium campaign doesn’t want to “be out front” about what’s on the ballot, how much more information about the stadium is being hidden or distorted?”

    The SJ Merc still refuses to tell Santa Clarans about the lawsuit against Measure J! The SF papers have reported on the lawsuit, why is the SJ Merc hiding this information from Santa Clarans? Information about the lawsuit was on t.v. yesterday (although they got the court date wrong, its been moved to next week).

  2. SJ Mercury hasn’t exactly evoked memories of Woodword/Bernstein with its stadium coverage.

    There hasn’t to date been any opinion critical of the plan with the exception of Tim Kamakami who wrote that the departure of Andy Dolich meant the plan was in trouble.

    Otherwise, almost relentless cheerleading, even by topical writers who you wouldn’t expect to be support the stadium.

    The Mercury article comparing the Arlington situation with Santa Clara was disappointing because more attention s/h/b focused on what is actually happening in the city.

    I hate seeing the “YES on J” signs, but I’d never dream of defacing or removing one. The problem is, you can’t expect the same respect from the other side, who will apparently resort to any tactics.

  3. Another letter to the editor about the campaign-this time in the SF Chron

    “49ers outspending Whitman

    Meg Whitman’s campaign spending per voter pales in comparison to what the 49ers are spending in Santa Clara (“Whitman’s attack ads could bring backlash,” March 24; “49ers spend more than $1 million on stadium effort,” March 23).

    Whitman has spent $27.2 million so far (and is offering to spend $150 million). A quick, back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that Whitman has already spent $1.60 per registered California voter to date and has said she is willing to spend up to $8.87 per voter.

    The 49ers have spent $1.4 million so far ($1 million just since Jan. 1) to “get the word out” to about 46,000 registered Santa Clara voters – that’s over $30 per voter.

    That’s almost 20 times the rate at which Whitman is spending.

    Makes you wonder – if the Santa Clara stadium is a good deal, why is it costing the 49ers so much to convince us?”

    Read more:

  4. Well it looks like the Santa Clara stadium opponents took another blow today. The courts rejected the lawsuits that were challenging among other things the language of the ballot measure going before the Santa Clara voters in June. It appears that the stadium vote is now on track for a June showdown for better or worse.

  5. Actually, Dan, what came out in the court case is that there is no requirement for financial disclosure on city ballot measures like there is on state propositions.

    Please check out the website:

    And read about the ballot measure and the lack of cost disclosure. You can also read about the dirty politics going on here, with the 49ers false/misleading advertising campaign. Even their yard signs don’t mention the stadium or the 49ers, they only mention ‘yes for schools, yes for jobs’. They’ve tried to turn Measure J into something that it’s not.
    The lawsuit was in part to require the kind of cost disclosure that the state requires. That didn’t happen, but as a result of the lawsuit, many more people in Santa Clara found out through the media what the costs really are. They’ve now published in the SJ Mercury News about the $67 million General Fund loss, the $114 million direct subsidy, and the $330 million that the Stadium Authority has to come up with for stadium construction costs.

    Many Santa Clarans are very suspicious of 49ers campaign materials because they disclose no costs. Santa Clara Plays Fair is getting many requests for speakers, to present the opposing point of view. The lawsuit really helped make the opposition more visible.

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