27 April 2006

Moving forward: NYC, Minny, and Sac?

While the threat of franchise relocation may be cooling, some cities looking to keep their teams haven't shown an aversion to throwing tons of public money a team's way.

Take the Yanks and Mets deals. Both will rely on the issuance of public, tax-free bonds to finance both ballparks. No taxes are being raised to pay for either project, but both teams will pay off the debt using PILOTs, or "Payments-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes." In this case, the taxes would be property taxes that would be levied on the land improvements. The use of government-issued bonds may be illegal, so the IRS is going to take a look at it.

The Twins are using the typical playbook in bypassing a referendum for their sales tax hike. Yesterday the Minnesota House passed the Twins' stadium bill. The state Senate is expected to be more baseball-friendly than the House. All signs point to the Twins staying put.

Closer to home, Sacramento pols are trying to put together a public financing plan for a new Kings arena. To accomplish this, they're attempting to circumvent the 2/3 voter approval required for a specific-use sales tax hike. If this sounds familiar, Santa Clara County is doing the same thing with their Measure A "BART tax." If you're wondering, there's no mention of the A's anywhere in that article, which should be a clear indicator of where Sac's focus is - not on the A's.

Tonight is the last San Jose ballpark EIR outreach meeting (City Hall, 14th floor, Room 1446, 6 p.m.). Thank you, SJRA, for scheduling it earlier - preventing a conflict with Sharks-Preds Game 4. I attended Tuesday night's game, and the Tank really did hit 113 dB after the first Marleau goal. Marc Morris's traffic-related comments document is available if you're interested. I didn't come away from the previous meetings overly convinced that the expanded traffic study (area and time) would take place. Hopefully the continually applied pressure will make it happen.