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03 January 2007

49er dilemma

The PR fight between San Francisco and its football team continues with the release of correspondence between the two parties. Mayor Gavin Newsom has reopened the idea of the stadium at Hunters Point Shipyard, an idea that was rejected earlier by the 49ers because of uncertainties regarding cleanup of the seriously toxic Superfund sites there.

The Navy pledged $120 million towards cleanup nearly three years ago. Cleanup is expected to take the better part of a decade to complete, which makes a 2012 opening date for a new stadium rather optimistic - to which 49ers owner John York concurs.

In addition, a new public park and wetlands refuge is being created out of Yosemite Slough, the inlet that separates Hunters Point from Candlestick Point. York points out in his response to Newsom that an engineering firm recommended the construction of a six-lane bridge over the slough to properly route traffic coming from the 101-Candlestick exit. In this Chronicle article, Lennar is supposedly going to pay for infrastructure related to the stadium, but the bridge has to give one pause. At 0.35 miles in length (accordingly to my Google Earth), the bridge would be one-half the length of the new Carquinez Bridge, which was a $200 million project. A direct comparison isn't fair, but size of the new bridge could be $50 million or more. And if they're talking infrastructure, they really should consider a light rail spur from the new T-Third line, since the location would presumably only have bus service under the current plan.

Even with these challenges, a Hunters Point stadium sounds a lot more feasible than a Candlestick Point stadium. I've heard that to facilitate construction under the previous plan, all manner of staging would've occurred on offshore barges. Yikes! The biggest problem now is that the mayor has given the team only until the end of March to review and approve the project. The deadline has already rankled York, and the optimistic schedule pushing such a deadline may be a ploy to save face by presenting a somewhat realistic looking proposal - lest they look like Oakland. Newsom even offered to set aside land for new 49ers training facilities - certainly an arrow across the bow of Santa Clara.

Still nothing was mentioned about how anyone's going to pay for a $800 million stadium.

For selfish A's-related reasons, I'd rather see the 49ers stay in SF. Bringing them down to Santa Clara would create a situation in which three teams would be located in Silicon Valley. The Valley is rich, but how well can it economically support three large teams? I've always considered the Bay Area a fairly fluid place when it comes to consumers looking for entertainment, but when it comes to hard numbers and competition for premium seating, I don't think having three South Bay teams is a favorable situation for the A's, 49ers, and especially the Sharks. Keeping the 49ers in SF would create a better balance, with two in SF, two in Oakland, one in SJ, and one straddling the East Bay/South Bay border. It's that kind of geographic distribution that could make it easier on all local major sports franchises.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Possibly "three teams located in Silicon Valley?" Couldn't we technically include the SF Giants as well, making it four teams? Although the Giants physically reside in SF, they (supposedly) can't survive without Silicon Valley's corporate and fan base (hence the territorial rights). Heck, why don't we include the Warriors as well, since they would be against an NBA franchise relocating to San Jose (for the same reasons the Giants don't want MLB in SJ proper).

Anonymous said...

The A's belong in OAKLAND!!!!!

Anonymous said...

At what point does a great brand become a failing franchise? When the city that has hosted you for over 60 years doesn't want to finance your new stadium. Bay Area politicians need to learn a thing or two from New York. Realize what these local brands mean to the city and state and do what it takes to get a deal done.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Marinelayer,
How do smaller, less affluent metro area's support 3-4 teams? Denver has the Broncos, Rockies, Nuggets, and Avalanche; Seattle has the Seahawks, Mariners, and Supersonics. Both Metro area's appear to be smaller, less affluent than San Jose/greater South Bay. Yet you imply that the South Bay couldn't support 3 teams...I respectfully disagree.

Marine Layer said...

Seattle is an oversaturated market with three teams, and the Sonics are feeling the brunt of this. They're clear behind the M's and Seahawks with their venue, and they've complained persistently that they're at a disadvantage selling premium seats.

The Valley is affluent, but it its population isn't that large. Selling to the Fortune 500 companies shouldn't be too difficult, but smaller firms usually are going to be a bit more choosy. Price and other factors come into play.

I've gone into the market comparisons in more detail here.

Jeff P said...

Any chance that the Raiders and 49's go in for a joint stadium project in Santa Clara? I know the Raiders are locked into Oakland for the next few years, but by the time a stadium is built, their lease will have expired.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that so many on this board feel that the South Bay is now the center of the Bay Area and that now BOTH the 49ers and Raiders would go there?

With all the past and future growth in Santa Clara County, the population is at best an even split between the North and South Bay. The A's and possibly 49'ers moving there is just a reflection of that, nothing more. In addition, both teams are doing this because they couldn't work out anything in SF and Oakland.

My advice to South Bay fans is to enjoy it while you can. What you all have is available land, nothing more. But some day you WILL be built up like everywhere else, then what'll you do?

Anonymous said...

I like this idea of a joint 49ers/Raiders stadium (although most hard-core fans won't). That way, the Raiders name could be changed to "San Jose," since the Niners are sticking to "SF." 16 home games per year is a lot better for the stadium than 8. If this were to happen...what becomes of the Coliseum?

Anonymous said...

The Raiders are sooooo out of here in five years when their lease runs out...the thought that they would build a stadium in conjunction with the 49ers ludicrious - thats one of the reasons they headed north to Oakland again - the NFL tried to foist a second team into the Hollywood park stadium they were trying to build. I think we will see the Raiders back in southern california...If,,,IF, IF IF the Fremont deal hits a snag, I'd love to see the NFL HELP the Raiders back down to LA before the end of the lease with the idea of building the new baseball park on the site of the current baseball/football stadium (I dont think that works into Mr. Wolfe's ballpark village, but you never know...)

Jimmy Jam said...

The Niners are taking the same approach as the A's are in forgoing ownership of the stadium in order to avoid paying property taxes on it. Since the City of Santa Clara would own and operate the facility I don't see why they couldn't try to attract the Raiders to fill more dates and generate more revenue for the city. I agree the Raiders are more likely to end up in L.A. but from a legal stadnpoint I can't think of why they couldn't unless the Niners had something worked out contractually with the city forbidding this that is.

jeff said...

TWO NFL Teams in the South Bay? You're all smoking crack!

What happens if there's another dot-com bust? Perhaps that's one reason why MLB was unwilling to negotiate territorial rights to bring baseball to San Jose.

But that's what this is all about to you all, isn't it? Getting San Jose's name on a team. Not the success of the 49'ers, Raiders, A's, or of sports in the Bay Area in general.

Anonymous said...

Two NFL teams in New Jersey? They must be smoking a lot of crack back East! "Perhaps that's one reason (Dot-com bust part 2?)why MLB was unwilling to negotiate territorial rights to bring baseball to San Jose"...So why allow the A's to set up camp in Silicon Valley at all? A mere 2 miles north of San Jose city limits?

Anonymous said...

Go back to OAFC, Jeff...its about state of the art facilities for our teams Jeff, 23 miles or so from the coliseum...

Jimmy Jam said...

NFL teams are far more regional attractions than any other sport. If there is a facility anywhere in the Bay Area and there are still two teams here it would make sense for the operator of the facility to try to attract both teams as tennants. It's in their business interests to try to fill as many dates as possible to produce as much revenue as possible. It just so happens that right now the aparent frontrunner geographically in getting a new stadium is Santa Clara. The same would go for San Francisco if they were to manage to get something done at Hunter's Point, or if both fell through and they built something at Marine World for that matter.

Jeff P. said...

Take it from another Jeff, Jeff. The world changes, things do not remain static. SF was successful in maneuvering the Giants into paying for their own stadium. Good for them. They weren't successful with the Warriors. They will not succeed with the 49's either. The NFL holds the upperhand in all dealings with cities. They can (and will) pick up their marbles and go play somewhere else. Football's limited home schedule makes it immune from high density requirements for stadia.

If anything is ususual here, it's that SJ has been content to remain a slumbering giant for as long as it has. If SJ builds an NFL stadium for either or both bay teams, trust me Jeff, "they will come." They will come with their banners and makeup and bbq's. But mostly with their cash. SC has nothing to lose and everything to gain in this deal. The only ones who can lose are SF. Sort of a rigged game. But SF can choose not to play, or to try and remake the rules(Midgen) in their favor.

Dean M. said...

"But that's what this is all about to you all, isn't it? Getting San Jose's name on a team."

No it's all about keeping the A's in the Bay Area. Oakland is finished kaput. Oakland has what they wanted - the pathetic Raiders.

There is an interesting opinion on the ineffectuality of the OAFC on this website:

Dean M. said...

Link for the above posthttp://oakball.net/forums/viewthread.php?tid=6674

Mike said...

Okay, so all of you that are hot on this idea of sharing stadiums, where were you when it was talked about that the A's should share ATT Park with the Giants and that the 49'ers should share the Coliseum with the Raiders? It would certainly be cheaper to tear down and rebuild half the Coliseum than it would be to build a whole new facility in Santa Clara, wouldn't it?

So how did you feel about that? Oh, that's right. It didn't involve the South Bay and does nothing for San Jose bragging rights. Silly me!

Anonymous said...

Mike, I've ALWAYS thought the A's should play at PacBell - win win for both teams - A's get to play in a beautiful ballpark, and Giants get help paying off their debtload...And I HAVE mentioned that in the past...


OT, but remember when bob lurie announced the giants were gonna play at the coliseum, unbeknownst to the A's?

Jeff P. said...

There is no way that the A's could have ever played in AT&T park. Consider what kind of position this would have put the A's in. Sure, Mcgowan may have welcomed them, up to the point that the bonds on AT&T are retired. Now he owns the park outright, and the A's equity stake is exactly nil. Now he starts jacking the rates the A's pay to play there until their position becomes untenable. Now the A's are forced to find and pay for their own park, probably someplace other than the Bay. The A's would have been fools to enter this type of arrangement.

For the Raiders and 49's to enter an equal partnership is altogether a different story for obvious reasons. It makes a lot of sense from a financial standpoint, although I doubt it ever comes to pass.

Anonymous said...

JeffP, respectfully disagree in the sense that a 30 year lease is a 30 year lease, so in a sense, youre right that the "equity stake" would be nil, but 30 years is a lifetime in the world of sports dynamics...I mean, the multipurpose stadiums of the last generation are 30-38 years old, and in 30 years, the retroparks could be outdated in ways we have yet to foresee...
I think it would have made a lot of sense to have the A's at pacbell park, not that it would ever happen...

bartleby said...

"Why is it that so many people on this board feel that the South Bay is now the center of the Bay Area?"

Well, because population-wise, and more important for this conversation, economically, it clearly is. Some statistics:

Number of Tech Jobs:
San Jose-Silicon Valley MSA: 214,900
San Francisco-Oakland MSA: 156,000

Average annual wages for those Tech Jobs:
San Jose-Silicon Valley: $126,700
San Francisco-Oakland: $96,900

Cumulative Tech Payroll:
San Jose-Silicon Valley: $27 billion
San Francisco-Oakland: $15.2 billion

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/06/27/BUG4PJKMKE1.DTL

Number of Fortune 500 Companies:
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara: 13, 7.49 per million residents, #1 in nation
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont: 13, 3.15 per million residents, #18 in the nation

http://www.gccc.com/pdf/eco/Fortune500_Comparison.pdf

Number of Fortune 1000 Companies:
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara: 23, 13.25 per million residents, #1 in nation
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont: 27, 6.55 per million residents, #17 in the nation

http://www.gccc.com/pdf/eco/Fortune1000_Comparison.pdf

What does this mean? Well, remember, club seats and suite sales drive the profitability of modern professional sports in the U.S., and corporate money drives those sales. In terms of corporate money, the South Bay is equal or better than SF and Oakland COMBINED, even if you throw in Fremont on the SF/Oakland side.

Also, I would argue it really doesn't matter too much where in the Bay Area the NFL teams are located. With only 8 regular season games, the vast majority of which are on weekends, and considering the "event" nature of the games, the NFL teams will draw from the whole Bay Area regardless. Specific location is far more important for MLB, the NBA, and the NHL.

Also, Santa Clara County remains the most populous county in the Bay Area.

So, I also disagree that the South Bay can't support 3 or even 4 major professional sports teams. Right now, Oakland supports three teams (sort of), and it is by far the weakest demographically of the three major Bay Area cities. If both the A's and Niners (and even the Raiders)do come south, they will all thrive, and so will the Sharks.

Jeff P said...

Thanks for the civil reply anonymous. Your opinion assumes a good faith negotiation for a 30 year lease. If that were the arrangement I could see the merit in your point. However, it's extremely unlikely Mcgowan would have engaged in such good faith negotiations. He would certainly negotiat a "deal", albeit one in which he has the upper hand immidiately upon the debt being retired. It's in his best interests to do so. He would (and so would the A's) that he has the upper hand in any sharing arrangement. Why would he give that away? I think the fact that he is willing to take the financial hit for maintaining his territorial rights to SC to prevent the A's from going to SJ proper speaks volumes. He's willing to take the hit in revenue just to keep them 5 miles further from the city center. That would seem to indicate that he's not likely to enter into negotiations which would serve to cut into his fan/profit base.

Anonymous said...

"That would seem to indicate that he's (Magowan) not likely to enter into negotiations which would serve to cut into his fan/profit base." The A's in Fremont will cut into Peter Magowans fan/profit base just as much as the A's hypothetically being in Downtown San Jose!! Try again Jeff P.

Jeff P said...

Exactly my point anonymous. The A's in Fremont WILL hurt Mcgowan. He's certainly not likely to entertain the option of having them play in his very own yard. The thing is, he is powerless to stop them from building in Fremont. Yet he would rather take the financial hit than allow them to move to SJ proper and perhaps profit by selling the rights to the A's.