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May 13, 2009
San Jose: A's stadium must "make money"
The San Jose city council held its baseball stadium meeting yesterday, agreeing on a set of principles for any deal to lure the Oakland A's. First and foremost: The city won't pay to build or operate a stadium, and it must generate money for the city's general fund.
This is an excellent start in theory, but as always, its value will depend on how the city chooses to interpret its pledge. Mayor Chuck Reed, after all, has already indicated that land subsidies don't count as "paying for" a stadium, leaving open the possibility of the city taking on hidden costs. And as for generating money for the general fund, there are plenty of ways to fudge that as well.
That said, it still looks like A's owner Lew Wolff's preferred relocation site will be an uphill battle: Barring hidden subsidies, he'd have to find a way to raise $400 million or so to build a stadium, plus lord knows how much to pay off the San Francisco Giants for the territorial rights they were granted 20 years ago when they were trying to move to San Jose. (No, it doesn't make sense. It's baseball management — even Google thinks it must be fiction.) And first he'll have to get through umpteen public hearings, plus whatever demands the proposed "Diridon Station Area Good Neighbor Committee" comes up with. And that's assuming MLB's A's stadium commission okays a move in the first place ... we could be here awhile.