10 February 2009

San Jose looms on the horizon

The Merc's Denis C. Theriault has an article today on where San Jose stands with respect to site and process. As has happened on this blog, there's a debate as to how aggressive San Jose should be in pursuing the A's while the team is still focused on Fremont. Downtown area councilman Sam Liccardo appears poised to pounce on the chance, saying, "If we have an opportunity for a stadium in San Jose," Liccardo said, "I will clear my desk." We'll see if that's the quote of a champion for the cause, or Larry Reid.

As noted previously, San Jose has most (but not all) of the likely targeted Diridon South site acquired. An environmental impact report has already been certified. MLB's territorial rights to Santa Clara County, which are owned by the Giants, would have to be acquired by hook or crook. Theriault also brings up the possibility of a referendum, to which as we all know by now Lew Wolff is allergic.

So then, leaving aside the T-rights for a moment (no one on the outside knows if/how it can be resolved, including me), how could the A's and San Jose ensure that a vote would not be required? I'll go back to the handy snippet of the city's municipal code that addresses stadium construction:
4.95.010 Prohibition of the use of tax dollars to build a sports facility
The city of San José may participate in the building of a sports facility using tax dollars only after obtaining a majority vote of the voters of the city of San José approving such expenditure.

A “sports facility” for the purpose of this chapter is to be any structure designed to seat more than five thousand people at any one time for the purpose of viewing a sporting or recreational event.

“Tax dollars” for the purposes of this chapter include, without limitation, any commitment to fund wholly or in part said facility with general fund monies, redevelopment fund monies, bonds, loans, special assessments or any other indebtedness guaranteed by city property, taxing authority or revenues.

Nothing herein shall be construed to limit the city from allowing the construction of a sports facility funded by private investment.

If any provision of this chapter or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, then the remainder of this chapter and application to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
To add to that, City Attorney John Doyle put out a legal opinion about how the City should proceed with its land acquisitions and other ballpark-related work. This has to do with the code above, as the words "participate in the building of a sports facility" could mean many different things depending on interpretation. He laid out three rules:
  • The City can pay for enviromental impact reports without needing a referendum.
  • The City can acquire land from willing sellers without needing a referendum, as long it could be used for purposes other than a ballpark.
  • Any eminent domain actions would require a referendum.
The second rule goes out the window when it comes time for the City to deal with the A's in business terms. The City won't be able to give the land away to the team, and it can't give them a $1/year lease or something similarly sweetheart. The term "fair market value" gets tossed around and while real estate values may have dropped by as much as 20% from the initial acquisition, any larger discounts could also be considered a giveaway, triggering a referendum. Effectively, the A's should count out any help other than the process-related work that has already been completed.

Theriault also mentions the height of the stadium. The SJ ballpark EIR was for a 45,000-seat ballpark with three decks and tall light standards. Cisco Field is only two decks and 32-35,000 seats. It can be 150 feet tall with light standards, or significantly less if the lights are incorporated into a roof structure.


Tony D. said...


Slight correction (I think): MLB owns all territorial rights and licenses them to the individual teams. As Mr. Wolff once said, the T-rights to SCCo. aren't up to the Giants or A's but to MLB/Bud Selig. Reading all the quotes over the past month and a half, hopefully this issue has been solved and put to rest.

Speaking of reading, good to see Rob posting again. That said Rob, you really need to go over the last two months of this blog and get yourself up to date. Oakland, Portland, San Antonio, contraction before San Jose? In this economy? After all the news of the past month and a half? Give us all a break!

Marine Layer said...

Tony, you're putting the cart several lengths before the horse.

Transic said...

Fresh off the presses (OK, not literally but you get what I mean):

Between the resistance to the A's in Fremont and the developments in Miami, it's not a good time to push stadium proposals, huh?

Transic said...

P.S. Please disregard the second article. I posted that by accident.

FC said...

Any idea why the meetings were canceled?

Anonymous said...

Wolff will be paying fair market prices on the Quakes stadium. He likely wouldn't be opposed at Diridon, unless the location affects the price dramatically.