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October 15, 2010

San Jose short of cash for A's stadium land

A new snag has arisen in the Oakland A's plans to move to San Jose: The city redevelopment agency that was supposed to buy land for the stadium site is flat broke.

A's owner Lew Wolff brushed off any concerns about this news, noting comfortingly that "there isn't a redevelopment agency or city or federal or state government that isn't in some form of disarray at this point," and promising vaguely that "whatever issues we run into, we will figure out how to get them done." The San Jose Mercury News interprets this as a potential offer by Wolff to buy the land himself, but there's little evidence for that, beyond Wolff's penchant for asserting that stuff will work out in the end somehow.

To be fair, the estimated $20 million price tag would be a drop in the bucket compared to the $461 million cost of building a stadium, as Wolff vaguely assures everyone he'll be able to do, just as soon as MLB makes its decision on San Jose territorial rights (read: once Wolff and San Francisco Giants owner Bill Neukom agree on an indemnification price). Though there's also the added complication that, the Merc News reports, one of the remaining parcels is owned by AT&T, which sponsors the Giants' ballpark "and has said its land is not for sale."

Remind me again why everyone thinks a San Jose stadium is a done deal once MLB signs off on it, aside from the fact that Wolff says it is? Isn't that what he said about Fremont, too?


Probably because if the San Jose stadium doesn't happen the Bay Area can kiss the A's good bye. Be it through contraction or a move out of state the A's will eventually be leaving. Oakland is no longer viable as a major league city, nor do they have the political will in that town. Fremont has been silent since their initial show of interest in a second go at the A's... and with SJ now having some more issues it's not looking good for the A's long term future in the region.

Which brings me to a question, what is it with Northern California in particular these days? A's are trying to move 40 miles south or baring that out of town. Sacramento Kings have given up on Sacramento and are likely on their way out of town. 49ers are moving 40 miles south or baring that likely out of town. Raiders while silent aren't going to stay in the Coliseum long term which means they'll be in a new stadium, moving 40 miles south, or out of town... I don't think any other region has had this many teams bolting, or at least contemplating bolting at once.

Posted by Dan on October 15, 2010 09:56 AM

I think a big part of the problem is Northern California is considered anti-business (Unless you want to build pot farms). When you consider the idea of Jerry Brown as Governor and Gavin Newsome as Lt. Governor (BOTH not exactly major A's fans#, running things, means things will get worse #Watch taxes and regulatory costs go up#. You may see a reverse gold rush, of the business #Particularly the small and (Or)entrepreneur variety# out of there. If I owned the A's, and I had the opportunity to get out of the state or consolidate #Along with the Rays), because of the negative attitude and tax rates, I would do so in a heartbeat.

Posted by Januz on October 15, 2010 10:33 AM

You're probably right about what is ailing California. Frankly I've thought for a while that the only thing that will save this state is declaring bankruptcy and having a constitutional convention (ie: starting over). Because the dysfunction in the state government has destroyed it. We're well beyond saving no matter who wins the election this fall, Jerry will just speed the process a little more.

Posted by Dan on October 15, 2010 01:35 PM

Dan, out of curiosity, where exactly are the A's going to "bolt" to? In order to "kiss the A's good bye" you kind of need a destination, don't you?

One of the many great lessons Neil's work should have taught you is that it's one thing for an owner to say "if we don't get this, we'll have to consider all other options" - it's an entirely different thing to actually have an option.

Sadly, the Samson's, Wolff's, and Wilf's are never approached by a journalist who will pointedly ask: Precisely where are you going to go? Instead of blindly accepting a vague threat of some mythical place where free stadiums sprout like beanstalks. Exactly what, in fine detail, is the A's option?

Separately, as a proud Northern Californian, I can tell you that there is nothing "with" NorCal these days. Our citizens simply are wise to the ways of Taxpayer Field. With the exception of a foolish suburb like Santa Clara, we understand that stadiums/arenas and their accompanying leases are terrible investments for the public. We're not interested in subsidizing these teams. Northern California's quality of life and status as a world class destination will be just fine with or without pro sports.

Posted by Thomas on October 15, 2010 01:41 PM

Well said, Thomas.

I think we all remember how long it took MLB to find a new home for the former Expos... it took literally years for them to find someone willing to own the club in what was touted as a 'prime' MLB market. MLB even guaranteed Peter Angelos a minimum sale price (which is normally the obligation of the owner moving 'in', not the league) to get this to happen.

Ask the citizens of DC how that $458m, oops, make that $530m, oops, make that $611m (and counting) facility is 'positively impacting' their economy these days... Or New Yorkers and their $2Bn stadium spending spree, or Pennsylvania (also in the $2bn range), or Ohio, or Florida, or Glendale or...

It's not like there aren't plenty of case studies in what not to do. But here we are...

Posted by John Bladen on October 15, 2010 02:28 PM

Dan, you don't happen to work for MLB or a stadium construction or architecture firm, do you?

You just seem to always take the position that stadium-building is wonderful for the community, even though Neil's work shows otherwise.

To be honest, the only team in pro sports that could use a new stadium is the Rays, but who's going to pay for it? If this is a capitalist society, then it should be the Rays.

And if Wolff wants a new stadium, let him build it. It's not like anyone else is clamoring to build one for him.

Posted by Steve Steffens on October 15, 2010 03:10 PM

Stever, nope, not unless stadium construction has something to do with IT ;). If you think the Rays are the only team thats need a new stadium and the A's don't you haven't been to the Oakland Coliseum in the last 15 years. And he is trying to build it, that's what all this is about. He's already said he'll be funding it (whether you believe him or not is your business). The only thing that has changed here is he'll have to buy a little of the land to do so as well and either have the city reimburse him later or just own it outright. What I can't figure is why you'd have an issue with that?

And I do take the position that quite often building a stadium can be VERY good for a community. I've seen it first hand in San Diego and San Francisco. Both cities and in particular both the immediate areas around the stadiums are far better off now that the stadiums are there. Now you can make the argument, and Neil often does, that the development would have occurred without the stadium, but that's both supposition and unprovable. All we do know is that the area around those ballparks are far better off today than they were 15 years ago when they were ghettos.

Posted by Dan on October 15, 2010 05:58 PM

As an Oakland resident who works in San Francisco (and of course a taxpayer) I am proud we are not being hoodwinked by sports team owners like other cities (just about all). My sense of the renovation of the area around AT&T Park is that it had more to do with the economic climate at the time of the development than the stadium in particular. It isn't an accident that the development of China Basin and SOMA in general coincided with the tech boom, which was very good for San Francisco overall.

I think it's equally unprovable that the development had anything to do with the stadium itself. Sure, a few bars are open in that area, but they aren't major drivers of economic activity.

If stadiums are such good drivers of redevelopment, where is that redevelopment in other cities? St. Louis? Pittsburgh? Cincinnati? Some has occurred in San Diego, but again how much is driven by the ballpark and how much by other factors?

If these questions are really unknowable, then the country needs better stewards of our tax dollars, who seem happy to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at unprovable concepts.

Posted by Tim on October 15, 2010 08:46 PM

I have long felt they would not get a new Stadium in Oakland, or the Bay Area, because of the politics and economics involved (God help everyone if Quan wins, she is so left wing, she makes Pelosi look like Ronald Reagan). Her own platform falls somewhere close to Pulto: "Oakland can flourish with more local business incentives and jobs, equitable opportunities, smart planning for thriving local districts, affordable housing, access to services and resourced parks, libraries and arts". Notice nothing on cutting taxes or on the A's or even the Raiders, and she uses terms like "Equitable Opportunities" (Quotas), and "Smart Planning" (The last thing needed is wasting money on study groups for how to create business (As we have seen with all of the ideas for a Stadium for the A's).

Posted by Januz on October 15, 2010 10:24 PM

@Tim-- what are you smoking implying that Oakland isn't getting hoodwinked by sports owners---Uncle Al is shopping for his new Raiders stadium as we speak and thats with the $150M hangover still there from the last Colisieum remodel---and if hookwinked in San Jose equates to $500M of private investment--I'll take it--

Posted by SanJoseA's on October 17, 2010 12:05 AM

typical, old lew-lew will get the partners to shell out for the land when it snows in s.j.. just more bay area lunacy...

Posted by paul w. on October 17, 2010 10:13 AM

Um, it snows in San Jose almost every year. Which ends up being a good analogy since Wolff will likely get his partners to shell out for the land since it's only a small 20 million more than they're already paying for the stadium.

Posted by Dan on October 17, 2010 01:49 PM

@Neil--why do I think that the SJ ballpark will happen once MLB signs off---increased team value alone by relocating to one of the top sports markets will more than replace the additional investment for the $20M of remaining land or $45M for all the land--when you have Cisco, Yahoo and Adobe and 70+ other hi-tech companies signing a letter to MLB in support of the A's move to SJ you'd be crazy not to take advantage of it--whether your the A's or MLB--

Posted by SanJoseA's on October 17, 2010 10:23 PM

I don't go along with the idea that Northern California will not work to retain its teams. The best counter-argument for that is the recent purchase price of the Warriors, which sold for a lot because the team is in the Bay area market. If teams in NorCal all wanted to bolt, their prices would be lower.

Of course, the Kings are worth far less than the Warriors. Why? Because your theory is partially correct. The Bay area will have a far easier time retaining teams than Sacramento will. Sac's big problem is a real lack of corporate presence.

The Kings are far more likely to move out of the immediate area than the A's are. To me, it's not even very close. I believe Sacramento has zero Fortune 500 companies, which is absurd for a metro area of nearly 2 million. Memphis has more. Vegas has more. San Diego has more. Omaha has more. It's a huge issue.

Talking with a developer friend of mine tonight, and I asked him about the arena plans. "It's dead." is all he'd say. He's in a better position to know these things than I am.

Posted by MikeM on October 18, 2010 02:33 AM

Well the other problem the Kings have (from a Sacramento perspective) over say the A's, is that basketball has several ready markets they could move the team to should they so desire. I mean KC, Vancouver, Seattle, and San Jose all have arenas that are ready or near ready for an NBA team and all 4 cities at one time or another have shown interest in a new team. Seattle being the most obvious choice assuming Key Arena got a few upgrades. There's also Vegas with their phantom arena deal which for the Maloofs would be a possible choice as well. The whole idea of where the A's would move right now is much more nebulous. The Raiders less so since it would be either Santa Clara or "LA". But for the Kings, there are some actual available viable options that could take the team on very short notice, so short of notice that the 2010-11 season could be their last if the arena deal in Sac is truly dead.

Posted by Dan on October 18, 2010 11:35 AM

Dan, I think Wolff won't be taking that big a risk.

As for hoops, KC is making more money on the Sprint Center by NOT having a full-time tenant (or else the NY Islanders would be there already), Vancouver HAD basketball, which is now in my city as the Memphis Grizzlies.

Seattle is only possible if a new arena is built, and there are no indications they will build one.

Do you think Stern would allow TWO teams in the Bay area by having the Kings relocate to SJ? I don't see that. So, there's really not that many options for the Maloofs at this point.

Posted by Steve Steffens on October 18, 2010 01:32 PM

Steve, you underestimate the viability of Key Arena. Sure it would need upgrades but it's still viable and they've said as much. KC hasn't ruled themselves out despite the Islanders choosing not to move there. Vancouver also isn't ruled out just because they had a team previously. And yes I think they'd allow two teams in the Bay Area if they thought it would be good for the league. It's not like the Kings are all that far away right now.

And Vegas remains and option both because of the Thomas and Mack Center being a viable temporary venue and the not dead arena plans in that city.

Posted by Dan on October 18, 2010 01:49 PM

And as for Wolff, I don't think it's much of a risk moving to San Jose, not sure why you thought I thought he was taking a risk.

Posted by Dan on October 18, 2010 01:51 PM

San Jose wants to spend $$ from its RDA to buy land for the A's, yet within that same RDA area are homes with children who are within Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD).

Because SCUSD is a Basic Aid district, supported by local property taxes and not by the state of CA, and because the property taxes within San Jose's RDA are kept by the RDA and not shared with the school district, property tax payers elsewhere in SCUSD (most of Santa Clara and part of Sunnyvale) are footing the bill for the education of San Jose's children who live in SCUSD and the RDA area.

Now San Jose wants to build more housing in its RDA, and expects SCUSD to educate even more children without San Jose providing the funds for those children. Our schools are already at capacity and adding more children from San Jose's RDA area means needing to build more schools.

San Jose should be providing for the education of its children before spending money to buy land for a ballpark.

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on October 19, 2010 10:19 AM

Wait so now you're attacking the stadium about phantom tax revenues that don't exist now anyway for a school district that covers parts of 3 cities?

Posted by Dan on October 19, 2010 11:11 AM

In other news the A's are supposedly trying to buy their flagship radio station KTRB, something they should have done a long time ago. Seems to me they have money to spare which is why buying the additional land shouldn't be too big of a deal.

Posted by Dan on October 19, 2010 11:14 AM

It's not about having the money. It's about whether, at a certain price, spending the money would no longer make any sense as an investment.

Or to put it another way: Bill Gates may be able to afford it, but you're still not going to be able to sell him the Brooklyn Bridge.

Posted by Neil on October 19, 2010 11:41 AM

I find it rather ironic that the San Jose RDA is funded by property taxes and they are attempting to build a baseball stadium that, in all likelihood, will not generate property taxes. Kind of odd thinking there.

As for the age old pro-stadium thought that "tax revenues that don't exist now anyway", I think Neil has done a pretty good job of explaining that there should be consideration for alternate use of the land and what that alternate use would provide as far as economic impact, property taxes, etc.

You're going to have a very difficult time arguing that building an A's Stadium on the Diridon site is the most prudent use of that land.

Posted by Thomas on October 19, 2010 11:54 AM

Dan, if the A's are so flush with cash, surely they can build their own facility? The Giants (more or less) did it. Time to one-up SF in the Bay area derby, I say...

Of course, if Lew was willing to part with any of his own cash, I guess that Quakes stadium would already be built, wouldn't it?

Posted by John Bladen on October 19, 2010 02:41 PM

Dan-I'm not talking about 'phantom' tax revenues.
38% of every property tax dollar within Santa Clara Unified School District goes to the schools. That's about 80% of the revenues our district relies on, and most of that is salaries.

Currently, the RDAs (San Jose's and Santa Clara's) keep $34 million per year in property taxes that would otherwise go to our school district, according to the district finance manager (70% of this $34 million is lost to San Jose's RDA).

I'm not talking about some phantom future property tax dollars, I'm talking about right now San Jose gives Santa Clara Unified nothing for the education of the children who live in the San Jose RDA. And because we are a Basic Aid district, we don't receive money from the state for those children either.

It is unconscionable that San Jose would choose to spend RDA property tax money on land for a ballpark when it refuses to provide RDA property tax money to educate its children, simply because the boundary of Santa Clara Unified extends within the San Jose RDA, and they know that Santa Clara and Sunnyvale property tax payers are on the hook to pay for the education of San Jose's children in the RDA.

The problem now is all of the new development that San Jose wants to put within the RDA that will bring more children to our school district, without the money to educate them. This is causing huge problems for our school district.

San Jose should fulfill its obligation to pay for the education of its students with property tax dollars before it buys land for a ballpark.

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on October 19, 2010 02:45 PM

John, Wolff is funding his own facility just like the Giants. That's been one of the basic principles of the San Jose ballpark since the beginning.

And Wolff has parted with some of his own cash to build the Quakes stadium as he's already purchased the land it's sitting on. However they'd like the stadium itself to be paid for with sponsorship money which is why they just hired the former founder and CEO of the GBL to get them said sponsorship.

Posted by Dan on October 19, 2010 02:46 PM

@Santa Clara Tax Payer- You do realize the 49ers are going to donate millions to your SCUSD each year once the stadium opens?

Why do you think you are such a minority in Santa Clara when it came to this issue? This ballot measure passed "so easily" because of this. Your argument is flawed on so many levels it is quite frankly "funny".

San Jose as a city is getting a "deal" by only using RDA funds for a new ballpark. Other cities have been forced to use general funds to build stadiums for their teams. This being a private investment outside of a $35 million investment in RDA funds that cannot be used for police, fire, hospitals, schools, a great deal for San Jose.

RDA funds can only be used for private development and a new ballpark in downtown as a "private" investment is a great idea.

Now if Lew Wolff steps in and pays the $35 million for the land then even better as no ballot measure would be needed.

I am sure Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Cincinnati, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and several other cities in MLB/NFL wish they got the deal San Jose is getting for the A's and Santa Clara for the 49ers.

The vast corporate base in the South Bay will make this happen and you will see Cisco Field and HP Park (49ers)built by 2014-2015 with the A's, 49ers, and Raiders relocating to the South Bay.

In this economy only places like Silicon Valley can get stadiums built with private money. They are "far and few in between".

Posted by Sid on October 19, 2010 02:52 PM

John, Wolff is funding his own facility just like the Giants. That's been one of the basic principles of the San Jose ballpark since the beginning.

And Wolff has parted with some of his own cash to build the Quakes stadium as he's already purchased the land it's sitting on. However they'd like the stadium itself to be paid for with sponsorship money which is why they just hired the former founder and CEO of the GBL to get them said sponsorship.

Posted by Dan on October 19, 2010 04:34 PM

Dan-the money for the schools comes from an extension of Santa Clara's RDA in time - not from the 49ers, or from the stadium itself. This has been well established by both the school district and the city manager's office. The 49ers campaign made it seem like the money is coming from the team. Why? Because freedom of speech let them say whatever they want in campaigning. That doesn't make it true. And the fact that we have elected leaders - our city council majority -who were willing to go along with presenting false information during the campaign also doesn't make it true.

It's our own property tax dollars in Santa Clara's RDA area that will go to the schools ($26 million over 16 years) because of the RDA extension. That same RDA extension diverts $67 million in property tax dollars away from our city's General Fund over the same 16 year time period, to pay for the stadium RDA bonds ($42 million, with interest this will be more $$).

Please feel free to contact our city manager's office if you need more information.

Measure J did not pass 'easily'. It took $5 million of 49ers spending to get it to pass, about $350 per yes vote.

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on October 19, 2010 04:43 PM

Sorry-my previous comment should have started with 'Sid'.

Do you actually live here? Because there are loads of people out of work here in the south bay. The 'vast corporate base' has had layoffs; there's lots of vacant office and retail space; and lots of people who have been unemployed for quite a while.

Our Santa Clara budget crisis has been caused by falling property values, hence lower property taxes to the city's General Fund, and falling sales taxes. One of the hardest hit areas for sales tax is business to business sales - an indicator of just how bad things have become for local businesses. Our city manager says she's never seen things this bad in the 30 years she's worked for our city, particularly in the area of business to business spending. There's a lot of corporate belt tightening here, not spending on luxuries.

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on October 19, 2010 04:49 PM


The San Francisco 49ers will NOT contribute a single penny to Santa Clara Unified Schools. All they did was to exploit the schools issue to their own advantage in order to get Measure J passed on June 8th.

Measure J lets our RDA extend itself for another ten years - denying our schools that property tax money for yet another decade.

Measure J also diverts $67M away from our General Fund through 2026.

The 49ers aren't contributing to our schools - they're just making our City pay more for them.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 19, 2010 05:10 PM

Another one, Sid:

"In this economy only places like Silicon Valley can get stadiums built with private money. They are "far and few in between"."

A one-billion dollar NFL stadium in Santa Clara will require the city of Santa Clara to cough up and raise a total of $444M.

San Jose's RDA will end up spending well over the $75M they're estimating now just to buy up the land necessary for Lew Wolff's park. That's not private money, either.

You're making excuses for "corporate welfare" - for millionaires whose ballparks contribute peanuts to economic activity.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays Fair . org


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 19, 2010 05:17 PM

"John, Wolff is funding his own facility just like the Giants. That's been one of the basic principles of the San Jose ballpark since the beginning. "

Dan, if Lew Wolff is truly paying for his own stadium, then he can also afford to pay to fix up the infrastructure around it - from the Autumn Street re-orientation on down to the AT&T land (which Big Phone doesn't even want to sell.).

That's easily over $75M when San Jose's RDA gets done with it.

All for menial jobs and poor returns to the local economy.

Read the Merc if you really want to understand the state that your RDA is really in.

But let's please stop pretending that San Jose is getting a ballpark with only private contributions. That's not true.

Lew Wolff is getting a ball park.

San Jose is getting a sicker RDA for it.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 19, 2010 05:25 PM

Bill, the infratructure is already mostly in place around the arena/stadium area. The Autumn Street realignment and rail improvements are exceptions. And both are projects that is being done with or without the stadium. So your argument doesn't hold much water if that's your man opposition point. In fact if Wolff is paying for the land this may not even go to a vote because even under San Jose's incredibly restrictive stadium law this doesn't qualify for a vote if Wolff is paying for the stadium and land.

As for reading the Merc, I'd take anything they say with a grain of salt these days. Their decimated news room is churning out a paper a very small step above the national enquirer these days.

Posted by Dan on October 19, 2010 05:44 PM

If the infrastructure were in place as you claim, you would not need your RDA to squander $75M it doesn't have in order to buy that infrastructure.

See the Merc from April 25th - your "infrastructure" is a load of parcels, and the RDA isn't even halfway done buying them up.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 19, 2010 06:12 PM

"Wait so now you're attacking the stadium about phantom tax revenues that don't exist now anyway for a school district that covers parts of 3 cities?"

They call it Tax Increment, Dan - and it's money that our schools don't get because RDAs keep it.

...and then blow it on buying land or infrastructure for hundred-million-dollar sports stadiums when only benefit millionaire team owners.

No 'phantom taxes,' Dan. Real money. Lost to our schools.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 19, 2010 06:13 PM

Bill if you don't like San Jose being part of your school district, why not campaign to have the district lines redrawn so you're not bringing in kids from other cities ;).

As for the $75 million, that takes into account land that's already been purchased, land that has not been purchased and Wolff is now likely going to buy himself. Plus the land already purchased by the city may be purchased from them by Wolff. In the end the city will not have purchased anything land wise. Their only contribution will be the road realignments and the like, things they'd be doing anyway with or without a stadium.

Posted by Dan on October 19, 2010 06:18 PM


To your comment, "The vast corporate base in the South Bay will make this happen..."

...that vast corporate base wants their luxury boxes for as little as they can get them for. You also imply by throwing around names like HP and Cisco that there's going to be this huge flood of naming rights money.

Candlestick itself proved that to be a joke:

$1.5M/year -- Naming rights fees paid by Monster Cable at Candlestick.

$330 MILLION --- Amount the Santa Clara Stadium Authority has to raise to subsidize the a 49ers stadium in Santa Clara.

Reality check: Any claims about some pot of gold for naming rights - forty miles south of San Francisco - is simply irrational exuberance.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 19, 2010 06:21 PM

"Bill if you don't like San Jose being part of your school district,"

Not what I said.

I said that RDAs keep property tax money that schools should be getting.

Then they blow them out the door on sports stadiums that only yield returns for millionaire team owners.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 19, 2010 06:23 PM

"As for the $75 million, that takes into account land that's already been purchased, land that has not been purchased and Wolff is now likely going to buy himself. "

Some of it has already been bought, but it's still part of the $75M - and the $75M is a lowball estimate.

The $75M is still the total cost of every parcel which will have to be bought in order to get the stadium built.

If Lew Wolff has to help out on this deal: You're admitting that your RDA is in such pathetic shape that it shouldn't be doing this deal at all.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 19, 2010 06:32 PM

"In the end the city will not have purchased anything land wise."

I never said "city." I said San Jose RDA.

San Jose's RDA will have done exactly that - they will have spent tax increment money on land for a ballpark that would otherwise go to San Jose schools.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 19, 2010 06:39 PM

If the RDA is in such crap shape that Wolff buys all the land (which seems likely to happen), why should they not do the deal? If Wolff purchases the land and builds the stadium... he's paying for the entire project.

The only remaining objections would be that you don't want a stadium period, which isn't much of an argument unless you're one of the neighbors, and even then it reeks of weak NIMBYism for people who bought houses near an arena, the SJC flightpath and a rail yard.

Posted by Dan on October 19, 2010 06:41 PM

Okay, I think a lot of the argument now is a semantic one over the definition of "otherwise."

Sid and Dan say that it's RDA funds, which can't otherwise be used for schools, so the schools aren't hurt.

SCT and Bill say that the RDA money is siphoned off in the first place from property taxes, which otherwise would go to schools, so the schools are hurt.

You could probably get into arguments about whether the RDA would ultimately need extra tax money if it ran short of funds, but I don't think either side is going to win here. It depends on whether you take the existence of the RDA and its funding stream for granted or not.

Posted by Neil on October 19, 2010 06:46 PM

As for Wolff paying for the stadium, if he does that, San Jose would indeed get away with a relatively good deal, even if the land cost goes up. (Not as good as the Giants deal, though — IIRC SF's land cost was down around $30 million on a $300 million stadium.) But Wolff still hasn't provided any details about how a San Jose stadium would be paid for — just like he didn't give any details about how a Fremont stadium would be paid for, or an Oakland stadium before that. So until we see a real financing plan — or better still, a lease — it's all speculation.

Posted by Neil on October 19, 2010 06:51 PM

"If the RDA is in such crap shape that Wolff buys all the land (which seems likely to happen), why should they not do the deal? "

It's not true that Lew Wolff is going to buy 'all' the land. He hasn't bought ANY of the land so far.

If he steps up on $35M - the last figure we saw anywhere - that's one thing.

But the defects in the funding scheme - not only the condition of your city's RDA - are precisely why a San Jose ballpark is a lousy deal for San Joseans.

A leaky, runaway RDA - spending tax-increment money on a baseball park - is an RDA not doing its job.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 19, 2010 07:27 PM

Bill, for the hundredth time, the RDA is NOT spending ANY money on a ballpark. Never has been. The only thing they've been doing to date is buying land. And if there are defects in the "funding scheme" as you call it, which appear likely, Wolff will have to make up the difference and at the very least buy the remaining land himself or through the RDA by proxy, and possibly pay the RDA (and thus the city) for the land they've already purchased as well. Either way, Wolff will have to pay for the stadium as has always been the plan and likely the land as well. If that is the case, would you STILL object?

Posted by Dan on October 19, 2010 07:41 PM

"Bill, for the hundredth time, the RDA is NOT spending ANY money on a ballpark."

I did not claim that they were. I stated - truthfully - that they are buying up parcels to be developed in *support* of a ballpark for Lew Wolff.

Which is exactly what San Jose's RDA should NOT be doing.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 19, 2010 07:45 PM

"A leaky, runaway RDA - spending tax-increment money on a baseball park - is an RDA not doing its job."

Your words. As for buying up parcels in support of a ballpark, at the time they started doing so they could afford to do so (and doing so is within the mandate of the RDA). Their economic troubles are a recent issue they've now acknowledged and they've acknowledged they don't have the money to buy any more parcels and won't be buying any more. Which is why we're now talking about Wolff buying the remaining land and possibly buying the land the RDA has already purchased.

Posted by Dan on October 19, 2010 07:57 PM


I'm sorry, but you're going to have to pick a bigger 'nit' than that in order to make your case for a ballpark in San Jose.

I made quite clear by my use of "Autumn St. Realignment" and "AT&T parcel" (above) that I knew the difference between the two. It's exactly what I meant when I wrote "...for a ballpark." - those parcels are indeed being developed 'for a ballpark.'

You're still wrong about what Lew Wolff and what he's buying.

Also, if you happen to speak to Mr. Wolff personally, and if you tell him, "$400M-$500M" for a stadium, and then tell him "$75M-$100M" for what you've just admitted that the RDA cannot afford, then you might find out - at last - what a poor deal you're really advocating for the City of San Jose.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 19, 2010 08:23 PM

Bill, again, Autumn Street is being realigned, stadium or no. The alignment is not part of the stadium project. It's being realigned for improved traffic flow around the new parking garage that is going in for the arena, HSR and BART regardless of the stadium being there or not.

And as for the AT&T parcel, that's an eminent domain issue that they'll come to when the time comes should AT&T choose to remain stubborn due to their allegiance to the Giants.

Finally I don't see how telling Mr. Wolff what he's paying for privately will show it to be a bad deal for San Jose. If a group of billionaires want to build $600 million dollars worth of stadium privately in San Jose I fail to see a problem with it unless you just don't like stadiums at all, which I suspect you don't regardless of the funding source.

Posted by Dan on October 19, 2010 11:08 PM

"Bill, again, Autumn Street is being realigned, stadium or no."

Autumn St.: $8.5M in land.

Remainder: $66.5M - and that's optimistic.

You'll get a minor benefit to the Diridon project by realigning Autumn - but the claim that it was being realigned anyway is a half-truth. You and I both know that its true purpose is line Autumn up with both the pavilion and your new ballpark. That is all that it's really for.

If you're advocating that the RDA use eminent domain to seize the AT&T parcel, my personal hope is that Big Phone kicks their butts like Dennis Fong did.

As for your last paragraph: No one is telling Mr. Wolff anything - and he has made NO written commitment of any kind to bail out your RDA for ANY of the land acquisitions.

It would be ideal if both the infrastructure *and* the stadium were paid for entirely privately - even though you know very well that it's not even a realistic possibility.

But it looks like we got you to admit at last that the RDA's expenditures are real commitments of public funds - and not just "phantoms."

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 20, 2010 01:02 AM

They are commitments of public funds. But they're both within the purview of the RDA and responsible use of them. Frankly I'd be more concerned with the cluster'eff that Santa Clara voters willingly signed themselves up for before I'd worry about San Jose whose stadium deal is shaping up to be one of the best every assembled from a public money perspective.

Posted by Dan on October 20, 2010 01:09 AM

That's my point - that blowing RDA capacity on a ballpark is completely *irresponsible.*

That's especially the case considering the lousy economic benefits associated with a sports palace. That doesn't even include the lousy job creation.

Please don't delude yourself that you're better off than we are. The San Jose ballpark is still a loser - unless you get every last bit of it - and its infrastructure - paid for privately.

Then, ask that all important question: "By how much will the General Fund of my City be benefited by this ballpark?"

You'll be shocked at how low those returns to San Jose truly are.

Or maybe you won't.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 20, 2010 01:40 AM

Maybe San Jose should do what San Diego did:

Posted by MikeM on October 20, 2010 03:00 PM

What San Diego did:

"Specifically, SB 863 eliminates the cap on spending by San Diego's redevelopment agency so that it can underwrite a new stadium for the city's professional football team, the Chargers."

Wow! What a great idea! Stadium for free, money for nothin'. Dan (above), you should be all over this.

Actually, the City of Santa Clara is contemplating something similar, and it will be taken up here on November 16th:

"The proposed Amendment to the Redevelopment Plan [Santa Clara RDA] will eliminate the time limit on the establishment of loans, advances and indebtedness as allowed pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 33333.6(e)(2)(B)."

Dan Walters (not be confused with "Dan" above, please) gets it right - again: Politicians have completely lost all perspective on sports palace subsidies.

That SB 863 was shoved in under cover of darkness should prove finally to Californians just how far our so-called "leaders" have fallen.

Same thing happened when State pols shoved SB 43 through, denying Santa Clarans the right to vote on their own City Charter - and handing to the 49ers a plum exemption to our City's ordinances.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 20, 2010 04:03 PM

@BB--the beauty of a democracy is that everyone gets to make up their own mind--the voters of Santa Clara widely supported the stadium (nearly 60%--the fact is not everyone agrees with you BB or really cares about your rants---obviously the voters in Santa Clara chose to turn a deaf ear to you

Posted by SanJoseA's on October 21, 2010 12:33 AM

San Jose As: Glad to have you back!

Another beauty to democracy is the free expression of one's opinions. Now, I'm sorry if that's troubling to you, but I still stand by what I wrote above - and elsewhere.

The fact that 40% of Santa Clara's voters understood the 49ers stadium subsidy to be a horrible deal for our city was enough for me.

Anytime you want to try presenting factual information on any of the stadium boondoggles - that's your right, too.

Always a pleasure,
Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 21, 2010 12:58 AM

@BB--factual information is presented--and you concur--60% are in favor--the fact that they don't buy into your sky is falling theories seems to trouble you---but 60% is a landslide in any race---and that you can't dispute--

Posted by SanJoseA's on October 21, 2010 11:17 PM

Dig it, San Jose As:

1. The San Francisco 49ers spent ***$4.5 million*** dollars to get Measure J passed, and they peddled cooked numbers and false claims the whole way.

2. They couldn't even get 1-1/2 votes for every one vote we got.

3. My group spent $20,000, and told the truth about the stadium subsidy - using the City Council's *own* Agenda reports.

4. Outspent by 225-to-1: We still got 40% of the vote.

I'm particularly proud of the contributors and precinct walkers - Santa Clarans - who went out and got that 40%.

Residents came back to us in the weeks after June 8th, once they realized what a lousy deal the 49ers euchred us into, and told me personally that they'd never have voted for "J" had they understood all the details.

June 8th was a mudslide of San Francisco money, sure - but it wasn't any kind of landslide.

So, uh, SanJoseA's: Tell me again why we should pay $444 MILLION in public subsidies for an NFL stadium that only benefits the 49ers.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 22, 2010 03:35 AM

IMHO, if taxpayers are going to subsidize any facet of a professional sports franchise, they should be made legitimate partners and share in the profits. If the team owner doenn't agree, he/she should build their arena/stadium without any taxpayer assistance.

Posted by Juan Pardell on October 22, 2010 01:45 PM

That's a good point, Mr. Pardell. As it stands right now, San Jose is barely even a business partner on a ballpark to be located in their own city. I'm betting that when all is said and done, proceeds from MLB games go directly into Lew Wolff's pockets and no one else's.

So: San Joseans are bleeding out an RDA to buy between $75M and $100M of land to make improvements for a ballpark that will put "how-many-$/year" into San Jose's General Fund?

San Jose ballpark proponents, it's been well over a year - you should be able to answer that question in the very next comment, and without prompting.

As for Santa Clara, you Stadium Spenders, Mr. Pardell's comment still applies - so, no more silly analogies with Green Bay, please. GB's got nothing to do with Santa Clara - the city does not own the Packers or collect any NFL revenues; they only operate Lambeau Field for them.)

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,


Posted by Bill Bailey on October 22, 2010 02:10 PM

First of all I am from San Jose and have lived here for 20 years so I understand the local dynamic very well.

The City Council and School District supported the 49ers stadium measure? Why I ask?

Forget all the citizens who voted for it as they could be "misinformed" by money and advertising as you point out.

In order to get a school district and city council to go along on such a large project you need real life evidence to make it happen. These people are probably are not "dumb".

If they are "dumb" then you should run for Superintendent of SCUSD and Mayor. I am sure everyone "would" vote for you if you can prove this...You sound like a politician at every turn.

The 49ers are as a "team" donating the money to the school district. Millions that have nothing to do with the city RDA at all because that money for the last time cannot be used for schools...PERIOD. Property taxes are sent to the RDA fund for private development and cannot be used for schools, fire, police, etc....

Understand this because you seem to be adamant that it can be in some form or fashion in your own mind.

Do you work at a tech company in Silicon Valley? They put out tons of money to local teams to support them.

You do not seem to understand "Civic pride" in the least sense of the phrase.

Cisco has already pledged 120M to the A's for a San Jose ballpark and you don't think one these several huge South Bay corporations will not do the same for the 49ers? Yes, plus it will be far more $$ wise than the A's as the 49ers are far more popular in the South Bay.

Candlestick is old and run down so do not use that as "comparison" with naming rights on the new stadium in Santa Clara or the new A's stadium in San Jose....not valid in any sense as the Cisco naming rights deal already defeats you here.

Another point- The land for the San Jose ballpark is $35M-40M total not 75M-100M and the SJ RDA already has $20M or so purchased. They are going to buy the land regardless of the ballpark for other reasons....Hopefully Lew Wolff buys it all then a vote is not needed.

At the end of the day the A's and 49ers are giving their cities great deals that will provide identity and civic pride across the board.

Other cities as Neil has pointed out have been "ripped off" with General Fund money. Look at a recent example of what is going on in Miami.

People love their sports teams and want to see them do well. As long as we are not using General Fund money and only a small portion of RDA funds (5%-15% max of total project cost)this is a good investment that will provide entertainment and spring up new business development in the local area.

You need to understand based on previous experiences in other cities the 49ers and A's are providing good to what some would argue "great" deals to their respective cities.

You may think otherwise because you feel economically it does not help the city.

Do not get me "wrong" I would never vote to allow San Jose/Santa Clara to put "General Fund" money in for the A's or 49ers...NO WAY.

A small part of RDA funds though is a good investment that will bring notoriety and pride to Santa Clara and San Jose.....This is how most people think around here and it is a "reasonable" use of money that can only be used for "private development".

Posted by Sid on November 1, 2010 02:40 PM


You were still wrong on the School District - the 49ers pay NOT A CENT into our schools. All they did is to exploit the issue so that Santa Clarans would agree to divert money out of our General Fund and into the schools.

So, in fact, our General Fund DOES lose, and big-time. In spite of what you wrote above: If you're still supporting Measure J, you are supporting that ripoff.

The 49ers stadium subsidy is a loser for the City of Santa Clara: $444 million out, and a measly $180,000 into our General Fund the first year. Oh - and stadium jobs paying less than $8,000 a year.

If you love your sports teams and want them to do well, that's up to you. But you're the one that should be paying for it - not me.

Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Posted by Bill Bailey on November 1, 2010 05:37 PM

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