Field of Schemes
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February 10, 2010

Santa Clara adapts stadium ballot language to meet 49ers' demands

The Santa Clara city council voted 4-3 last night to approve modified language for the upcoming San Francisco 49ers stadium initiative to be voted on by residents in June. In particular, the council agreed to language requested by the 49ers front group Santa Clarans for Economic Progress that the ballot question indicate the stadium would involve "no new taxes for residents" — something that dissenting council members insisted was misleading, especially given that the language won't mention the $114 million in hotel taxes and redevelopment money that would go to the project, let alone the $330 million in bonds that the city will put up, in the hopes of being paid back down the road by stadium revenues. This was enough to convince stadium supporter Joe Kornder to join two stadium opponents in voting against the ballot language, saying he was worried the process had lost "its objectivity."

The Santa Clara council doesn't appear to have posted the final approved language yet, but I'll post a link here as soon as it does. Or, even more likely, some readers will do it first in comments.


This is an election bought and paid for by the 49ers from the get go, with the help of 5 city council members (now 4 - for this vote). The original ballot language heading into last night's meeting at least reflected some elements of the Term Sheet, while the new language (I heard CM Matthews read it out loud ) is the equivalent of saying 'Do you like puppies?' and if you answer yes, the 49ers get to reach into your wallet. They are working very hard to hide the siphoning off of general fund revenues to stadium debt in the redevelopment area (money won't ever make it into the general fund, that has the same effect as taking money away directly. It's $67 million to be diverted from the general fund by 2026. And they are working hard to hide the $20 mil in utility reserve funds used to move a substation to make parking spaces-this is at a time when one of our substations was just closed down for OHSA violations. And of course the 49ers don't want the citizens of Santa Clara to know about the $330 million going to the Stadium Authority-so they just aren't talking about it, and the $330 million appears no where in the ballot initiative or the text of the Term Sheet! You have to go to the table of financing costs Exhibit 14 of the Term Sheet to find the $330 million listed, and then April and Dec 2007 documents on the city's website (49ers stadium proposal) to find any scrap of info about the $330 mil. We will be paying off bond debt for 40 years, and the city council majority, the SJ Merc, and the 49ers aren't willing to inform Santa Clarans about it. CM McLeod is right when she says the process has been hijacked.

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on February 10, 2010 10:15 AM

Here you go Neil:
"Shall the City of Santa adopt Ordinance 17.20 leasing City property for a professional football stadium and other events; no use of City General or Enterprise funds for construction; no new taxes for residents for stadium. Redevelopment Agency funds capped for construction; private party pays all construction cost overruns; not City/Agency obligation for stadium operating/maintenance; private party payment of project fair market rent; and additional funds for senior/youth/library/recreation to City's General Fund?"

Note that the $114 million direct subsidy and the $330 million from the Stadium Authority aren't mentioned, the $67 million diversion from our General Fund to stadium debt isn't mentioned (the diversion is like alimony, money is taken out of your paycheck before it hits your bank account). They are doing their best to hide the true costs to Santa Clarans, including the bond and loan interest debt, which will be huge, especially for the Stadium Authority bonds.

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on February 10, 2010 12:48 PM

Oh-and it fails to mention the $20 million from our electric utility to move a substation to make 380 parking stalls at $52,000 each. And one of our substations has just been closed down due to OSHA violations-wouldn't you think that electric utility reserve funds should be used to keep our substations running and up to standards, rather than for creating more parking stalls?

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on February 10, 2010 12:50 PM

And that language is *less* confusing? What was the original language that was rejected?

Posted by Neil on February 10, 2010 04:30 PM

It will be interesting come June to see which way this goes. It seems the Niners are trying to stack the deck in their favor. However Santa Clara citizens still have plenty of the actual info in front of them. It's going to come down to how much do they love the Niners and how much do they want their city to be on the line.

Posted by Dan on February 10, 2010 04:55 PM

Here's the original language:

"Shall the City of Santa Clara adopt Ordinance Chapter 17.20 for leasing City property for a stadium for professional football and other events; no use of City general or utility funds for construction; utility payment for optional electric substation relocation; capping Redevelopment Agency funds for construction; payment of construction cost overruns by a private party; and payment of rent to City's General Fund?"

Both are confusing, but this one at least is honest about the electric substation move, doesn't make the false claim of never raising taxes (over 40 years of debt), doesn't make the false claim of fair market rent, doesn't make the false claim of no city/agency obligation for operations and maintenance (the stadium authority is an agency of the city). etc.

And this one was worked on by council members on both sides of the issue, whereas the one that was voted in last night was Council member Matthews in collusion with the 49ers at the same time he was on the committee to work on the language shown above.

Just when you think the behavior of some of our city council members can't get any worse, it does get worse.

Please see
For the real facts about the stadium.

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on February 10, 2010 05:13 PM

More interesting stadium news from the bay area today. Turns out those ballpark sites Oakland's mayor was all gung ho about a few weeks back... were anything but secure.

Turns out Oakland hasn't even talked to the landowners at the sites yet, and when interviewed many of them said they have no intention of selling. Where that leaves Oakland's chances to keep the A's isn't hard to see when both the cities to the south do not have the same issues.

Posted by Dan on February 10, 2010 10:13 PM

new language for voting:
a YES vote means YES
a NO vote means YES

just watch, this could happen...

Posted by paul w. on February 12, 2010 02:10 AM

I got a phone call from a survey company, Mountain West Research in Idaho, doing a survey about the stadium.They wouldn't say who paid for it, but the city doesn't do surveys and the 49ers are 99.8% funding the pro-stadium group, so it has to be the 49ers. One question really concerns me:

'Would you support or oppose using additional city money if the 49ers can't pay for their entire share?"

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on February 12, 2010 05:59 PM

49ers will head to Los Angeles for an offer they cant refuse.

Posted by L.A. 49ers on February 13, 2010 04:38 PM

In order to head to LA, the 49ers owners would have to give up something like 40% of the team to Ed Roski. I don't think so.

And LA is running an enormous budget deficit, so there's no public money for a stadium.

Apparently, the 2nd choice spot is Oakland for a combined 49ers/Raiders stadium. There was just an article today about that:

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on February 13, 2010 05:11 PM

Apparently, the 2nd choice spot is Oakland for a combined 49ers/Raiders stadium. There was just an article today about that:


No way AL will share his venue with the tea baggers from frisco.

Posted by Niners Suck on February 14, 2010 10:51 PM

On February 11th, the Santa Clara Unified School District passed a resolution, 7-0, to endorse the stadium deal. I think that their action was inappropriate primarily because: they have no business doing this.

I've learned that the board in all likely hood doesn't understand the financial risk the proposed deal presents to the city (they didn't even seem to understand the risk of the stadium authority presents to the general fund).

The board apparently wants to get their hands on RDA money totaling $26,000,000 which may come their way if the stadium is built. However, their viewpoint is myopic; they don't seem to comprehend that a city in general fund distress is not a healthy one for the S.C.U.S.D. to operate in. It's a classic case of robbing Peter to pay back Paul, say 25%.

I'm worried that the schools will be sending election information materials home with students encouraging parents to vote "Yes."

I find it distressing that "leaders" in the community can not look at the "big picture" involved here.

Posted by Santa Clara Jay on February 14, 2010 10:51 PM

The school board doesn't care that in order to get their hand on $26 million, the General Fund of the city of Santa Clara has to lose $67 million, because the extension of the redevelopment district in time for the stadium will divert property tax money away from the city and towards stadium debt.

Prior to making their decision, the school board had not even read the Term Sheet and was unfamiliar with the financial costs of the stadium to the city,unfamiliar with the $114 million direct subsidy the city will have to pay, and did not know anything about the Stadium Authority, a joint agency of Santa Clara and the Redevelopment district, which will have to raise an additional $330 million in funding. Despite having done no homework on the stadium issue, they all voted 'yes' to getting their hands on $26 million. They could have asked the city manager's office to make a presentation on the costs to the city, and given the stadium opposition citizen's group equal time with the 49ers to make a case, but they didn't. They just listened to a dog and pony show from the 49ers.

SCUSD forgets that they are a basic aid district which is paid for by our property tax dollars, and that by stepping into the political fray, they will alienate voters who supported their recent parcel tax measure, which almost passed (it got 62% of the vote and needed 2/3rds, and came on the heals of some unsavory stuff about a teacher at one of our high schools, who has now plead guilty).

In addition, the footprint of the school district and the city do not match-parents in Santa Clara whose children attend Cupertino and Campbell schools will pay for the stadium but not receive 1 dime for their kids' schools, while residents of Sunnyvale and San Jose whose kids are in Santa Clara schools will get money for their schools while Sunnyvale and San Jose have not paid one penny towards the stadium. It is unfair.

Santa Clara Unified has overstepped its boundaries in getting involved in a political issue, especially one as contentious as the stadium, and there will be some property tax payers here who will turn a deaf ear the next time the school district asks for money.

Jed York made a presentation in front of the school board and showed a pie chart of stadium costs in which the $330 million contribution from Santa Clara's agency, the Stadium Authority, was lumped in with the 49ers contribution to make it look like the 49ers are giving more than $800 million. That's false. Santa Clara's contribution is 47% ($444 million) and the 49ers contribution is 53% ($493 million). Jed York also said the Stadium Authority is a joint agency between the city and the 49ers (no, it's between the city and the redevelopment agency). He also inflated the number of jobs the stadium will create (its 515 full time equivalent jobs-low pay, no benefits - not counting construction jobs, which are regional and will occur in Oakland or SF or wherever the stadium ends up). He also said the 49ers will open their checkbook if the Stadium Authority can't come up with enough funds for naming rights, etc. (that's not in the Term Sheet, why don't we put that in writing if it's true), he also said the 49ers will pay operating losses for the Stadium Authority. Let's put that in writing too.

We have a vote coming up on a Term Sheet that is not binding in June. The binding document isn't due until July. We have a ballot initiative written by the 49ers with their citizen's front group that doesn't give us all of the costs, and put on the ballot because of paid signature gatherers (3 out of 4 I encountered lied to me and said the council had decided to not put the measure on the ballot so the 49ers had to do an initiative), we have a ballot question that is written to be favorable to the 49ers (that has no numbers in it) and says things like 'no new taxes' which is a red herring, because taxes here in Santa Clara on residents are property and sales taxes, neither of which can be raised without a vote of the people. Other taxes, like hotel taxes, are on tourists not residents. Our city council can't raise taxes on us but they can raise fees and cut services to balance our General Fund deficit caused by the stadium. The initiative has been called an 'advocacy' piece by 2 of our council members, one of whom said the election process had been 'hijacked'. A third council member said the process had 'lost its objectivity'.

Welcome to dealing with the NFL. Before this whole stadium mess started I didn't even know their training facility was here in Santa Clara. This stadium business is tearing apart an extremely nice, peaceful community. Shame on the Yorks for doing this to us.

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on February 15, 2010 07:34 PM

Forgot to add-the ballot initiative and ballot question hijacking came after the hijacking of our right to vote on a city charter change that allows the 49ers to bypass our charter requirement for competitive bidding when public fund are used. They promised us in the June 2 2009 Term Sheet that we would get a vote on a charter change-the 49ers went to Sacramento and had special legislation written just for them that took away our right to vote.

People here are getting really angry with each other - pro-stadium folks are getting really nasty to people who don't want public funds go to to the stadium. People used to be much more friendly here. The wounds run deep from the 49ers big money campaign to get their way and get $444 million plus free land from my community. The 49ers are shredding the community here. People for the stadium have lost site of the fact that its people with big money wanting to make even bigger money over a game - and they are offering us crumbs in return for our dollars.

I'd like to ask the NFL if this is really how they want their owners to behave. And if they really want our tiny community, where 40% of our school children are on free or reduced price lunch, to go so deeply into debt for 40 years that we cannot maintain all of the things our general fund pays for - police/fire/libraries, youth activity center/parks and rec/senior center, city salaries and services. There is no way we can maintain our quality of life and sustain the kind of cuts to our general fund that will come along with the stadium and extension of the redevelopment district.

Hey Neil, in your next edition of your book, you can devote a whole chapter to Santa Clara, so much garbage has gone on here, including the mayor being caught on mic some time ago telling stadium opponents that they are wasting their breath speaking in front of the city council.

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on February 15, 2010 08:10 PM

I admit, I�m no wonk, but I do have an interest in civic happenings and my lunchtime readings over the past couple years have made it clear to me that this deal isn�t in Santa Clara�s interest. Given that they occupy an official post in the city it amazes me that members of the school board can be so ill informed about outlines of the deal�and then express an opinion about it!

Frankly, it seems to me that there is an ethical issue at play also. Even if the board was exquisitely familiar with the deal, why did they feel entitled to endorse it? If this isn�t a case of conflict of interest I don�t know what is.

Posted by Santa Clara Jay on February 16, 2010 03:56 PM

I agree, my city could merit a chapter in the next edition of Field of Schemes.

That sinking feeling...

Posted by Santa Clara Jay on February 16, 2010 04:55 PM

The 49ers front group, Santa Clarans for Economic Progress, is walking door to door handing out campaign literature which now states that the stadium will only cost us $42 million. My spouse jokes that if we wait long enough, they'll say that it's free. Oh-our mayor's picture is on the misleading campaign literature.

And the guy going door to door lied and said that if we don't spend the redevelopment money, we'll have to give it back to the state. There's no money from the state involved, and if the stadium doesn't get built, the redevelopment district will run its course, and the property tax money in the RDA will go where it's supposed to go, to our General Fund, to other agencies.

They will say whatever it takes to convince people to vote for this thing. And our city council majority does not care. I was at a funeral for an elderly neighbor yesterday, and one of his friends said that they no longer go to city council meetings, because it's like 'talking to a wall'.

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on February 20, 2010 09:13 PM

If the salesman comes to my door, I'll be polite and request that I be allowed to film his pitch so it can be viewed by others. If he's speaking what he believes to be true I don't see why he should mind.

But, I'm not surprised these individuals will say anything at this point. What does one expect?

I like the stadium sales slogan "Just when you think it can't get any worse--it gets worse."

Posted by Santa Clara Jay on February 22, 2010 02:40 PM

Hey guys, just wanted to thank you for posting this information. I'm currently studying the stadium proposal. After perusing the Santa Clara city website I decided to look at more sources. This entry came up on Google. It's been really helpful. The language on the ballot fails to reflect this situation: $937 Million Dollar Stadium: a. $114 million direct subsidy (12.16%), $42 million directly, $20 million to move an electrical substation, $17 million to create parking spaces at Great America, $35 million in a hotel tax for the city�s 8 hotels b.Public Stadium Authority issues $330 million in bonds (35.22%) c.49ers pay the rest of the $493 million (52.6%) Ouch. This is not the time for the city to be pulling these kind of expenditures. Two more things: First, like you guys mentioned, there is a June vote and thereafter a binding document in July. That way, what we vote on might change. Of course, the council decided to vote June 8, not November 2, which was another option. hmm.... Second, let's not forget that the SF49ers have spilled 350k on financing this campaign.( Some intent they're showing convincing us this is the right thing. So thanks for your comments guys, it was really helpful. Oh yeah, just wanted to say that I saw the artist's depiction of the proposed stadium and it looks beautiful :). Have a good one.

Posted by Santa Clara Student on March 1, 2010 06:08 PM

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