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April 29, 2010
Oakland: We really really really want to keep A's
Not be outdone by San Jose, the city of Oakland looks ready to throw everything it has at keeping the A's in town, starting with economic impact studies:
The study, commissioned by the nonprofit group Let's Go Oakland, claims that building a new 36,000-seat, $500 million baseball-only stadium in the city's Jack London Square area immediately would create 1,661 new construction jobs in Oakland while also generating about $2.6 billion in total economic activity for the city over the next 30 years.
"We really need and want the A's to stay in Oakland," said City Council President Jane Brunner. "The real reason we need to have the Oakland A's is for economic development."
Ah, "economic activity," the last refuge of the economic development consultant. As I've discussed here previously, this just adds up all the money changing hands in your city, regardless of who's spending it and who's receiving it — so that if the A's double ticket prices, that's not a horrible ripoff of Oakland fans, but rather a wonderful boost to "economic activity," notwithstanding that the people actually receiving the bulk of the cash (the A's owners and players) don't live in town.
I've only begun to dig into the report itself, but it looks like the more meaningful economic projections — actual fiscal impact to city tax revenues — are reserved for the final chapter, where a new stadium is estimated to generate $19.8 million a year in added city taxes, for a total 30-year present value of $273.7 million. The problem here: A chunk of those tax revenues (sales taxes, parking taxes) would be in part cannibalized from other places (if locals spend more on A's parking, they have less to spend elsewhere in town), while the biggest chunk, taxes from increased property values, is awfully speculative, given past problems with tax-increment financing districts.
(And yes, before anyone writes in: There's some argument that Oakland has more to gain than the average city, given that a lot of fans come from neighboring municipalities. But that only reduces the cannibalization problem, it doesn't eliminate it.)
As for job creation, actual permanent jobs created would be in the 1,000 range — meaning that if Oakland were expected to kick in even 20% of the stadium cost, its per-job cost would be above the craptacular $100,000 mark. Council president Brunner might want to come up with a better "real reason" — maybe something about wanting Oakland fans to be able to see Brett Anderson before he blows out his elbow. Oops, too late!