20 March 2007

Cali's a tough place, Noll: Fremont over Santa Clara

The Merc's Mike Swift has two good pieces today. The first covers the generally anti-public funding attitude for stadia in California. The other article has noted sports economist Roger Noll's skepticism over the 49ers' Santa Clara stadium plans, while also saying that the Fremont site is "much more viable."

The only thing missing from Swift's article is SB 4, the 2005 bill that flew under the radar during the legislative session, only to be stillborn as it went through committee. We should be proud of the fact that we aren't likely to get extorted as our counterparts are in Pennsylvania, Florida, and even New York. It doesn't matter that California alone would be one the world's top ten economies. Let's remember who would be competing for public funding if it were allowed at the state level (which it hasn't for decades):
  1. A's ballpark in Oakland/Alameda County
  2. San Francisco 49ers stadium
  3. San Diego Chargers stadium
  4. Sacramento Kings arena
  5. New LA football stadium to attract an NFL team
  6. San Jose Earthquakes stadium
As for Noll, he's right. While the $200 million being pursued is only 1/4 of the 49ers' projected budget, it's still a sizable chunk for any municipality, let alone Santa Clara. If a vote is required - which looks likely - I don't know how well that'll go over. A while back I spoke with one of the Santa Clara project's proponents, and one of the advantages about Santa Clara being pitched - the city's ownership of an electric utility allows it to control and lower prices - could be placed at risk if the money backing that price control is leveraged. Meanwhile, Lew Wolff continues to make appearances in Fremont, yesterday reading to kids at Niles Elementary.
One other nice blurb from China Basin: PG&E will install new solar panels in three different areas at AT&T Park, enough to generate 123 kW, or "enough juice to power the ballpark's scoreboard for an entire season." Applause to both the Giants and PG&E for doing what they can to take a small load off the power grid.

Update (3/21): PG&E somehow "forgot" to tell its ratepayers that they would end up footing the bill for the project. Oops. So much for the good PR.


anon-a-mouse said...

Damn those Giants. Why do they have to go and do something good like that? Makes it just a little harder to hate them. Of course the fact they hoist Bonds upon us season after season pretty much negates anything they can do short of solving world hunder. But still...

anon-a-mouse said... hunGer, that is. Although world hunder is a serious issue too.

As far as the meat of those articles, I've long wondered why we don't use taxes/surcharges on things like hotel rooms and rental cars to help pay for new stadia. With our massive tourist industry in this state, it would generate a huge amount even at a very small percentage (<1%). It wouldn't put the industry at risk because the vast majority of people wouldn't notice it among the other various charges on these items. And it's not the sort of thing you see or are aware of when you book your trip.

As far as the A's are concerned, the first article really tells me that PC is probably our last and best chance to get a new, baseball only-stadium for the A's. We might not see many more new stadia anywhere for awhile. Plus, Wolfe has done a tremendous job in putting together a plan that gets the team what it needs without putting the city on the spot to pay for its construction.

Contrast that to the Niners, who are playing with semantics. They're saying: we won't add new taxes. But they are going to take the fruits of previous taxes that Santa Clara was smart enough to save for a rainy day. I don't like the smell of that.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty sad. Sacramento NBA, Santa Clara NFL, Fremont MLB...San Jose, largest city in the Bay Area and 10th largest US, drum role please....MLS!??? Oh well, I guess we'll always have our beloved Los Tiburones (even if no one watches NHL on TV). As for California taxpayers, I don't think they like tax hikes period...whether it's for a Kings Arena in Sac or 1/2 cent for transit/services in SC Co. (see last years defeat of Meaure A/SC Co.).

Anonymous said...

solar panels, is that necessarily a good thing?
does it matter how cost efficient solar panels are, or not?
what if the solar panels cost $3 billion and powered one lightbulb?

Marine Layer said...

I suppose the cost would matter if it were the 80's and solar cells were still a fledgling technology. Nowadays consumers can buy off-the-shelf parts for $4-5 per watt of power generation. I'm guessing that the cost of the Giants' project is around $3/W, or a total of $369,000. Throw in installation and it goes up to $500K. The article doesn't mention who's underwriting the cost, but regardless it's not that expensive. It's the equivalent of Barry Bonds' bonus for reaching 250 plate appearances, or slightly more than a rookie minimum contract.

If it shows both parties to be good corporate citizens and examples to the public, it's excellent PR and good business sense.

Jeffrey said...

Fremont is a good option for several reasons. It has a real advantage being a clean canvass for a masterpiece to be created upon.

I honestly think it is the only sports stadium, of all thse mentioned, that will be built.

I expect the Kings to be in Vegas, the 49ers to be in San Francisco, the Chargers to be stuck in Jack Murphy and Los Angeles to stay the way it is as long as the leagues expect the public to pick up the tab.

I think the key reason Fremont will happen is the funding mechanism. Not to get political (poli=Many, tics=blood sucking leeches) but I think one thing both conservatives and liberals agree on is that creating new taxes to fund stadiums is horse crap.

I think the idea of partially using tax revenues from existing taxes generated by a development to fund the development is an excellent idea. That and creating a development around the stadium to generate the additional funding required. Oh, and having a new version of Wrigley Field to go watch games at is nice also.