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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