20 December 2007

More TV stuff + 49ers stadium a few bucks short

I'm not usually one to dabble in rumormongering, but this one seemed juicy so I can't really resist. During KNBR's 10 a.m. segment on Wednesday featuring Gary Radnich and Tony Bruno, a caller claimed that the FOX affiliation in the Bay Area is up for grabs, with longtime station KTVU losing grip and Radnich's own KRON in the running. Radnich tacitly confirmed the rumor, saying (I'm paraphrasing here) that the station didn't get involved with MyNetworkTV for nothing. MyNetworkTV is the tiny, failing broadcast network owned by FOX.

Not that the A's are performing well ratings-wise against Dr. Phil, but this would certainly explain why KRON wouldn't pursue a lengthy deal with the A's. KTVU could be in serious trouble if they lose FOX, as they'd become just another independent station with few prospects (yes, I'm including MyNetworkTV). Longtime news anchor Dennis Richmond is retiring next spring, which would put the KTVU news operation in a similar position to, well, what KRON is in right now. KTVU is not owned by FOX. It's owned by Cox Communications, which has long resisted FOX's offers to buy and fostered a sense of autonomy for KTVU. Among the shows of autonomy: KTVU has in the past used CNN national video instead of FOX News, and it still partners with CNN on its website. KTVU is the only one of the Bay Area's four major network stations that is not owned by the parent network. Should KTVU lose FOX to KRON, could it provide an opening for the A's? We'll see.

Meanwhile in Santa Clara, rising costs and limited sources of funding put the project underfunded by $51 million. The key appears to be the city's preference not to give up development rights to some key parcels of land north of the stadium site (quotes from Assistant City Manager Ron Garratt):
Revenue from land leases "is the one significant revenue source in the general fund that is locally controlled," he said in an interview. "The state can't come in and take it; the county can't touch it. It's critical. It's 10 percent of the general fund now and it's projected to grow somewhat higher."
The proposal calls for a large amount of gameday revenues being routed toward debt service. However, there are no plans for a land lease payment from the 49ers for the stadium land. It's unclear how the $51 million gap would be bridged. The team indicated that they or the NFL may be able to raise additional money. For their sake I hope so since the city says it's tapped out at their stated $136 million contribution.

Nearby hotels are positive about a plan to create a Mello-Roos district that would levy an additional occupancy tax, helping to fund the stadium. Many of those hotels are also interested in becoming the hotel of choice for visiting teams, so there's some direct benefit there. The backup site, or bus/overflow lot, is looking more and more like the best site with each passing day.

The humorous part of it was the list of demands submitted by Cedar Fair, operator of Great America. Cedar Fair wants to be compensated for the 4 days of lost revenue every year when they'll have to close the park because of conflicts with football games. They also are demanding control of all parking revenues from all events at the stadium. Good luck with that. Does anyone else find it odd that two companies from Ohio are duking it out over the fate of a Bay Area-based team?