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.