24 October 2005

San Jose - Renovate Muni or Pursue A's?

San Jose has, for lack of a better term, found itself in a bit of a pickle. The city's oft-forgotten Class A San Jose Giants play in the historically rich but otherwise decrepit Municipal Stadium. An article in this week's San Jose Business Journal reports on the Giants' parent team, the San Francisco Giants, giving a 2007 deadline to renovate the stadium or the S.J. Giants will move. Towards the end of the article are a few nuggets about MLB's territorial rights issue.

Of course, many of the San Jose politicos are focused on "bigger" things like their downtown ballpark site, which is being bought by the city's Redevelopment Agency in hopes of prepping the site for the A's. Still, there's a vocal group of S.J. Giants supporters and preservationists that want to get Muni up to par with the rest of the California League. Considering the resounding success of Stockton's Banner Island Ballpark, Muni pales in comparison.

Complicating matters is a plan to redevelop much of the area, which also contains Spartan Stadium, Logitech Ice (where the Sharks practice), Spartan Village to the north, and Kelley Park to the east. The plan would convert the area, which I've at times called a "black hole," into a large mixed-development concept with new retail and medium-density housing. The plan also calls for changes to Spartan Stadium, which the San Jose Earthquakes are looking to upgrade if they don't relocate first. City Council member Cindy Chavez, who is considered the frontrunner in the 2006 mayoral race, supports this plan. The biggest issues with the plan are the costs associated with rebuilding two stadiums (which have to be voter-approved) and other ancillary costs, which may include cleanup of a Superfund site south of Spartan Stadium. There's also the problem of light rail, which is a prohibitive mile west of the area along CA-87.

Where would the S.J. Giants go if they left San Jose? Try Napa or Sonoma, or maybe Contra Costa County.

In the end, it may come down to a debate about getting a major league team at the expense of losing a piece of history (Muni and the Giants - though the Giants have only been around since 1988). As the campaign moves forward, the candidates, including Chavez, Chuck Reed, and pro-major league candidate Dave Cortese will have plenty of opportunities to convince San Jose voters why their respective vision is best.


Georob said...

About 15-20 years ago, Concord was toying with the idea of getting a Single-A team. But could the Giants do it in A's territory? After all, what's good for the goose is........

Napa or Santa Rosa would be nice, but if I want to hold onto my South Bay minor league fans, I might look at Salinas, Monterey, or Santa Cruz.

I somehow have the impression that San Jose is determined to get Major League baseball regardless of what the Giants and A's do. Do the San Jose city fathers think the Bay Area can support THREE teams? If so, perhaps they're channelling the spirit of Sarah Winchester.

I think San Jose would be better off trying to get the 49'ers out of SF.

Anonymous said...

I read the SJBiz article and it wasn't as bad as the blog made it out to be. $4-8 million for Stadium renovations doesn't seem to be much, and Cindy Chavez appears willing to include it in the area's master plan. The SJ Giants president even concedes that it is his "fault" for not being more involved with the city on Muni renovations. As it turns out, I don't think this is much of story as it relates to San Jose's Major League endeavors. Renovate Muni or Pursue Major League Baseball?..San Jose can do both. And by the way, San Jose is a Major League City!

Marine Layer said...

The San Jose boosters are pretty realistic. Outwardly, they're talking about either the A's or another team that wants to relocate if the A's move away, or even a third team. But we all know that a third team is not going to happen, and that if the A's move, the Bay Area would not instantly jump to the top of the list for a relocating franchise, at least not while Selig is running things. Expansion? The same odds as the last option.

There's another angle that explains the "why" for the San Jose boosters. The A's regular season schedule fits perfectly with the Sharks with no overlap until the NHL and MLB playoffs. Downtown vendors would love to have year-round sports-related business. It's a business model that can only work in a downtown setting. Their argument is that with so many people commuting into Silicon Valley for work, might as well try to get them to spend more locally after work by virtue of greater entertainment options such as a downtown baseball game.

And that's why I doubt they'll go after the 49ers with any real zeal. A team will only have 10-13 home dates per year on the NFL schedule. There are even nice, built-in reasons for why to pursue the 49ers, such as getting a facility for both the Quakes and SJSU football, but the downtown angle couldn't be pursued and the cost of a football stadium is some 50-75% higher than the cost of a ballpark.