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02 March 2006

Uncertainty could push SJ ballot measure back

Residents of the neighborhoods surrounding Diridon South have asked for an extension on the EIR's 45-day public comment period. San Jose's City Council agreed and moved the deadline out to April 20. According to the Merc's Barry Witt:
That two-week delay will mean the study probably won't be brought back to the council for final certification in time for a ballot measure to be written for this year's election, said Joe Horwedel, the planning department's acting director. He said that means giving up on a timeline the city had been pursuing.
The hopes were that everything would be ready for final certification in June, with the ballot measure happening in November. That plan's biggest proponent was lame duck mayor Ron Gonzales, who wanted to submit a proposal based on a successful measure in December. I suppose he wanted it then so that he could say it was approved on his watch as a legacy item.

Plenty of questions were raised about funding the stadium and the fact that the A's haven't focused on San Jose during their search to date. With this uncertainty hanging over the effort, it's likely that the ballpark itself will be a major issue in the upcoming mayoral election. The next mayor will have a say on whether the ballpark effort continues through June 2007, when the next election could be held.

In previous posts I've advocated moving the ballpark ballot measure back to June. Why?
  • The new mayor will be in place, and it will be clear whether the mayor's a supporter or not. If he/she is, the awkward Gonzales situation won't hamper the effort.
  • The East Bay picture should be pretty clear. Any remaining Oakland options will have been explored, as well as Fremont, which wants to fast track the process. If Fremont doesn't pan out, that could leave San Jose as the best site available, with the territorial rights issue remaining to be resolved. Remember that San Jose isn't an option unless all efforts in the East Bay have been exhausted.
  • The ballpark measure wouldn't be competing with the huge infrastructure bond measure slated for November. It'll also be further removed from the 1/2-cent sales tax (the stealth BART measure) that will be on the ballot this June.
  • It should be clear whether funding will be available to bring BART to San Jose via the aforementioned sales tax hike.
  • All site acquisition should be complete and any changes to the plan involving other development such as a soccer stadium could be accommodated with the given extra time.
  • Construction would have to be pushed back slightly, but it could still be done by Opening Day 2010 or worst-case, 2011. The A's have lease options through the 2010 season, which leaves a good deal of wiggle room in a possible construction schedule so there would be no need to rush, as is the case in DC.

19 comments:

tony d. said...

I take solace in the words of the Great Mark Purdy..."People want things to happen in 5 minutes. They won't...this could take years," when referring to San Jose's pursuit of MLB (and MLS expansion). Perhaps pushing the ballot back is a good thing; I've never liked Ron Gonzales being the "face" of SJ's endeavor. R.M., you think the Giants T rights to SJ will be looked at differently with time...say, 2 or 3 years down the road? I just don't see these stupid rights lasting an eternity.

Georob said...

And please note Rhamesis' own words:

"Remember that San Jose isn't an option unless all efforts in the East Bay have been exhausted."

Problem is, very few folk in the blogosphere wish to believe that.

This is indeed going to be a long journey. And don't count Oakland out yet. I still say that the problem over there is that no one takes the threat of an A's move seriously. When DO they start believing it, watch some feet start to move.

Will it be too late? As long as the A's play in Oakland, I doubt it.

murf said...

ML, I was waiting for a post regarding the rush for a ballot initiative. RoGo is looking for a legacy item, but BART nor Ballpark are realistic possibilities.

I completely agree with all of your points as to why it's better to wait. Here's another, though slightly less poignant: It doesn't feel real yet to the average voter. Many residents feel like SJ would be building a stadium that will sit vacant forever - either because of territorial rights or lack of commitement from a MLB franchise.

It will take a considerable amount of time and effort to "educate" the voters. It won't be ripe by December, and will fail if hastily put on the ballot.

Marine Layer said...

Good point murf. Unless the team makes that commitment, people aren't going to rally around the idea. If that happens (big IF), the pro-ballpark machine can hit the issue hard, citing the Arena and the concept of finishing downtown, etc.

tony d., I can't speculate on territorial rights. To me they were never logical in the first place, but rules are rules and we as fans have no say over them. It's pointless to debate them until the A's actually get to the point where they have to be discussed, which may never happen.

tony d. said...

Rhamesis,
In the case of San Jose, if a ballpark (or any other entertainment venue) is privately financed ala AT&T Park, is a ballot measure still required?

Marine Layer said...

Yes, because San Jose would be contributing the land and perhaps some amount of necessary infrastructure. I suppose that if the city and county were really sneaky, they could siphon money from the sales tax hike to a ballpark since use doesn't have to be determined until after it passes. But that wouldn't be politically smart - not if someone wanted to keep their job.

old blue guy said...

Tony D, doesn't like Ron Gonzales being the face of SJ's ballpark quest. How will Cindy Chavez be any better? Face it, this is a non-starter. San Jose just can't get its act together well enough.

And maybe it shouldn't happen. Taxpayers should not have to pay the freight for a bunch of millionaires playing baseball. And WRT the idea of building a stadium in hopes someone will come, talk to people in the Tampa Bay area. The monstrosity they call a ballpark was built in the expectation that some team would want it. It sat empty for years. Now it's occupied by the Devil Rays. Check their attendance and guess how long it'll be until they move—sticking the taxpayers once again.

With this unconstitutional territorial rights crap (boy, this needs to go to the Supreme Court), and the consequent uncertainty about whether a team can relocate to SJ at all, who in their right minds would even consider committing for a ballpark? Oh, yeah, the San Jose city leaders. They've already spent public money in anticipation of the big build. Bigger fool question: Gonzales and the city council or the residents who allow them to stay in office?

I think the A's will end up leaving the Bay Area altogether. Next will be the Raiders.

Jeff said...

I agree that SJ is not an option until all Oakland/Alameda county options have been exhausted. I doubt that Oakland isn't taking the threat of the A's leaving very seriously. The A's WILL have a new park, and the city seems to have conceded the issue. It's a matter of them mustering the political capital/will necessary to keep the team. I don't think they are inclined to do so for a host of reasons. Paramount amoung those reasons are the whole Raider fiasco. No politician will stik his/her neck out anytime soon for a sports franchise in Oakland. I am VERY curious as to how the Fremont initiative pans out. If will certainly be telling if Fremonts efforts fall flat through no fault of their own. I am with holding judgement on the matter until firm proposals are submitted to the city of Fremont. I still think the big prize is SJ. And I do not put it past either the A's or MLB to orchestrate "failed" measures in order to grab the brass ring.....I guess I'm a cynic at heart....always have been. But I've been right a heck of a lot more than I've been wrong when I hold suspect the motivations of my fellow man.

Georob said...

Jeff, you keep arguing that San Jose is the best place for the A's to go, and I think most of us agree; but that's not the real issue here.

The issue is whether MLB believes that San Jose is a lucrative enough market for them to go through what they'll have to do to get there.(ie: dealing with territorial rights) Otherwise, a deal to compensate the Giants would have been worked out some time ago.

Instead, I would guess that there are at least a handful of MLB owners are are quite concerned over what a San Jose team would do to the Giants. That doesn't mean that they won't eventually approve a deal, but they're more likely to do so if they have no other choice.

Hence, every option has to be played out in the East Bay first.
As for "orchestrating failed measures", get real. To make even "token" attempts at an East Bay deal takes time and money. Why waste it if you've already decided to leave anyway.

As for P.R., Oakland's going to be PO'd no matter how or when a move occurs. The A's can stay through 2010 if they choose, and Oakland can't kick them out otherwise.

Jeff said...

Rob,

I do think SJ is the best of options for the A's. In fact, I would consider SJ a much better option than any projected out of state choices currently viewed as being available. What I am cynical about is exactly what you bring up....whether SJ is the real issue.

For instance, you mention that it takes time and money to make alternative offers....but is that necessarily true? Wolfe has proposed a conceptual park to the city of Oakland, but how much did that proposal actually cost him? Aren't the archetectual drawings transferalbe to another site? So far, I dont see any real expendentures being laid out by Wolfe. A lot of talk is all I have seen so far....and if SJ is the goal then that talk is absolutely required in order to make any proposal to MLB for a move to SJ. I told you, I am cynical by nature, and if one is to believe that SJ is the goal, then all the steps taken by Wolfe so far are quite necessary in order to make that move. Really, how much money has Lew laid out to date in his dealings with the city of Oakland? None to speak of that I can see....although I admit I could be wrong on that score.

Honestly, I try to put myself in his shoes in as far as that is possible. If I owned the team and wanted to move them to SJ under the existing agreements....how would I go about achieving those goals? What I am saying is that IF that is his goal, what happens over the next few months will be very telling. ML presents the issue as a series of "what ifs"....ie, build in Oakland if possible, if not, build in Alameda, if possible. 3rd up, SJ. I totally agree with his assessment...but how are we to know that the chronological order of events being presented to us are the same as Lew's priorities? One can only go by actions....so I am watching to see what he DOES with the Fremont offer. Rob, I'm trying to be as realistic as possible. He would spend the time and money in the East bay because as you pointed out, in order to move to SJ it would be necessary that he do spend the time and money. Otherwise he has no chance of successfully pressing his case to the other owners or MLB.

On the other hand, I actually believe that a Fremont site might be considered close enough. Based on ML's excellent work, I have come to beleive it might actually be the best case scenario. After all, BART will be a reality in the Warm Springs site long before it becomes a reality in SJ. And BART access in one of Lew's stated goals. It also has the prerequisite freeway access. It also has the added advantage of negating the territorial rights issue. I am curious as to why they would pursue the Pacific Commons site over Warm springs....but I imagine ML could present very compelling reasons for doing so. I guess it comes down to my belief that with all the money spent so far by Lew and associates, I find it hard to believe that they would not have firm plans in mind prior to making their purchase of the team.

As far as Oakland is concerned, I totally agree with you. They are between the proverbial rock and hard place. I apologize if my ranting are annoying to you....it's a bad habit of mine. Once I seize on an issue, I tend to beat it to death looking for ways to either prove or disprove it....I'm not so good trusting my fellow man. Consider it an occupational hazard. I think you are correct in pointing out that there is an element of basic agreement by most of the posters here. First and foremost, a relocation will take place. Without the T.R. restrictions, SJ would be the ideal destination. The next few months will tell the tale.

tony d. said...

For the record, I won't be voting for Cindy Chavez...it's either Mulcahy or Cortese for this SJ native! (I know, another subject for another blog)

Georob said...

What very few here seem to understand is that the Giants claim to San Jose is a very tangible obstacle. But read the posts here and elsewhere and you'll see that most people think that it can be easily swept aside or paid off with a paltry sum.

IT CAN'T. If Bud Selig were to decide tomorrow that the territories were invalid, the Giants would probably sue and the anti-trust exemption would be in serious jeopardy. Like it or not, the late Walter Haas gave the Giants something very valuable: the rights to Santa Clara County. And it's those rights that enabled Peter Magowan to get his ballpark built.

For the Giants to give up San Jose, they have to get something in return. How it's done will be worked out behind closed doors, but it will be SOMETHING, and it won't come cheap. The other owners know this, and will have to be convinced that there is absolutely NO OTHER WAY for the A's to be successful before they pay that price.

Now, this is where Tony would jump in with "How can the owners NOT see how successful San Jose would be?" My answer to that is: I think they DO know, but would it be successful enough to offset any potential loss to the Giants(not to mention compensating them)?

At this point in time, there are probably enough owners who aren't convinced. So with all due respect Tony, quit trying to convince us, CONVINCE THEM!

I will stick to my original argument, and that is before San Jose becomes a serious candidate, not only will every East Bay option be explored, but also cities outside the Bay Area, and possibly even contraction.

San Jose knows that something will get built at Diridion South eventually, so they're not wasting anything in getting the infrastructutre in place.

But if it's going to be the A's, it will be a long wait.

tony d. said...

Hate to admit it, but I agree with you Rob 100%. And if I could convince MLB owners regarding the case to SJ, I would (I'd also be in some other occupation if I had that kind of power). My posts on this blog are therapeutic more than anything (a good ole fashion vent). But perhaps it's time for SJ natives (and SJ ballpark proponents) like myself to wake up and smell the coffee! Because quite franky, it's not looking good for the "home team" (SJ ballpark proponents)...GO FREMONT!

Kevin said...

Help me out here guys

Is it true that the Giants and A's are the only two teams in MLB that have designated territories? Are all other multi-team marktets shared?

If this is the case, I don't see why it can't be argued that allowing the A's to relocate to SJ would not set a dangerous precedence. Why would other team owner have to worry about their fan base when they are already in a shared market. In the case of the Orioles, the Nationals are like an expansion team moving into an established market. Of course their move will cut into the Orioles fan base. But here in the BA, it's a case of one team wanting to relocate within the same market area.

So far we've only heard from Selig. And I realize the man holds a lot of power. But I don't think I ever heard one of the other owners voice an opinion on this potential move.

peanut gallery said...

From what I've heard, we're the only market with designated territories.

Marine Layer said...

Many teams have designated territories. The Yanks and Mets share the NY metro, which consists of the 5 boroughs and northern NJ. The two LA teams share LA, Orange, and Ventura counties.

Baltimore and DC probably have a similar relationship to the Giants-A's split. I only say probably because I'm basing my guess on the old Major League Agreement. Regardless, Baltimore's territory did not include the District. That's where the similarities end.

Kevin said...

ML,

Those major market teams have designated territories, however within the territories themselves the fan base is shared. This would be like MLB designating the 9 BA counties as Giants and A's territory, with both teams having equal access to the fans within the area. I would have no problems with such an arrangement. However that is not the case, and it all seems a bit inconsistent if not unfair.

Georob said...

Inconsistent? Yes. Unfair? Without doubt. But it's quite legal and very binding.

Again, all you folk who wish to nominate Walter A Haas for sainthood better think again. He approved those boundaries, and if the A's have to leave the Bay Area because they can't go to San Jose, his legacy is pretty much toast.

Jeff said...

Rob,

By the nature of the league, are the Giants even allowed to sue the league? I seem to recall reading something that prevents them from filing suit. What that is escapes me for the moment. While I do not doubt that the T.R.'s are formidable, I also don't believe they are insurmountable. As I have said before, if the city itself decides to flex their muscle, it's likely they would be successful. For Mcgowan to challenge the anti-trust exemption would be akin to cutting off your nose to spite your face, don't you think? That wouldn't make much sense at all.....especially considering he could very well lose on both fronts.....effectively ending the exemption as well as losing his "rights" to SJ.

Also, is it reasonable to believe that the other owners would be overly concerned about one clubs rights? The owners have a fairly consistent history of screwing each other...I wouldn't expect that to change much....especially if a move by the A's can be framed as profitable for the majority of the other owners, vis a vis the revenue sharing agreement.

You raise a lot of good objections, which makes this conversation entertaining and enlightening. You may be right, but I still have a hard time believing SJ would expend the time and energy if they truly felt they had a poor chance of succeeding.

All in all, Fremont is beginning to frame up as quite possibly the best alternative for Wolfe. I certainly would have no objection, other than I personally have no problem with paying faily low ticket prices currently available at Mcaffee. But when did fan consideration ever equate in MLB?