01 April 2009

49ers, Santa Clara close to terms

Not to be left behind, the Yorks and Santa Clara are back pumping up the 49ers stadium plan. While the basic structure of the arrangement is the same, the numbers have changed a bit. The vote was to be either binding or advisory based on the availability of a completed EIR. By pushing the referendum back to June 2010, all EIR/CEQA should be completed by then. The projected subsidy, which has been estimated at anywhere from $109 million to $180 million depending on certain options, has now been trimmed to less than $90 million. The total price tag is projected to be $900 million.

Why wouldn't the 49ers simply foot the bill for the remaining $90 million, since it's only 10% of the budget? True to form, Jed York says that's the NFL's requirement. Ever since the stadium building boom, the NFL has required some level of public investment if the league tapped into its G-3 fund. The league's rationale is that it's the way for a municipality to get skin in the game. Even though G-3 is gone, it will be replaced by something else and apparently, similar rules will be applied.

It's been over 20 years since the last publicly financed, voter approved sports venue in the Bay Area. That venue was San Jose Arena. Since then, all publicly financed stadium initiatives have largely failed. Let's recap:
  • 1989: San Francisco's Prop P (China Basin GIants ballpark) lost by 2,000 votes
  • 1990: Santa Clara County Giants ballpark measure (1% utility tax) failed
  • 1992: San Jose Giants ballpark measure (2% utility tax) loses in a landslide
  • 1995: Oakland Coliseum renovation to bring back Raiders - done without a vote, notoriously unsuccessful
  • 1996: Coliseum Arena renovation for Warriors - probably the most successful to date, high costs to operate venue make it less attractive for non-NBA events compared to HP Pavilion
  • 1997: Proposition D passes in SF, providing $100 million towards a new Hunters Point stadium for the 49ers. Development was scaled back, project became stillborn
  • 2001: A's efforts to work out a publicly-financed ballpark deal in Santa Clara die due to mistrust of team among City Council members
It's hard to fight that kind of track record, isn't it? Regardless, the Niners will forge ahead anyway. I'd like to think that the A's have learned from this, but I wouldn't put it past them to put out a publicly financed ballpark deal in San Jose. If that happens, I'll be first in line at the ballot box to vote it down. Given the state of the economy, I'd do the same if I were a Santa Clara resident come June 2010.

Note: I omitted Pac Bell Park because the public money involved went towards infrastructure, not the stadium proper.

"I claim this city for Mother SF!"

The gloves are out. The line in the sand has been drawn. Honestly, I'm hoping for a Hamilton-Burr duel. Then again, maybe not. Andrew Baggarly reported today that the San Francisco Giants have just purchased a 25% stake in their high-A little brothers, the San Jose Giants.

The Giants will claim one of four seats on the San Jose club's board; if they agree to purchase a controlling interest, they would occupy three of five board seats.

Industry sources pegged the value of San Jose's franchise at $7-10 million, making the Giants' investment worth an estimated $2-3 million.

San Jose officials are not amused with the Johnny-come-lately appearance of the mothership's

Reaction from San Jose city leaders was not warm. Mayor Chuck Reed will not participate in Thursday's event at Municipal Stadium, according to an aide.

Councilman Sam Liccardo, a big-league-ballpark booster who has been meeting with community leaders to draft a pitch for the A's, was blunt about the Giants' move, calling the timing "notable."

"The only time I see pitchers from the Giants in San Jose is when they're on a rehab assignment," he said. "And this pitch looks like an attempt to rehabilitate a San Francisco ballclub's image in San Jose.

"Everyone's assumption is that this is a plea to the commissioner, and I don't think it changes anyone's mind in the end."

San Jose is a bit upset because the Muni renovations, which the City and the SJ Giants have been arguing about for years, could've been made more complete had the mothership lended a hand.

This move is not about reinforcing the Giants' major league territorial rights. It is about C-A-S-H. It looks like the baseball equivalent of flipping a house. Look at it this way. When a public company, like
recent example Genentech, faces a takeover, the interested buyer (Roche) has to pay a premium over the prevailing market share price. In Genentech's case, the premium was 16%.

I've mentioned this in passing, but I'll say it again: Both the SF and SJ Giants would need to be compensated if the A's moved to San Jose. Obviously the terms would be different for each team. The parent team's $2-3 million investment could yield $1 million or more if they played their cards right, not including the costs associated with moving the team to a smaller market - say the North Bay, for instance. Should they raise their stake to the 55% controlling interest, they'd get even more.

Who'd figure out the compensation? I'm guessing the blue ribbon committee that's sorting out the East Bay situation. Smart move, Neukom. Smart move.

Tight. Really Tight.

In light of the news emanating from San Jose's Redevelopment Agency yesterday, I figured it was time to do another mockup. This time, the ballpark has a ENE orientation, almost the same angle as the Coliseum.

The yellowish area to the left is the PG&E substation parcel. Its irregular shape is caused by the easement that extends north to Cahill and W San Fernando Streets. The easement is undeveloped save for a power transmission pole which connects to the rest of downtown. Both this easement and the small Caltrain-owned parking lot to the west are probably going to be acquired by the city as part of an updated Diridon/Arena Area plan. I don't necessary expect the land to be used for a planned high speed rail terminal. There's more room north of the existing station for that.

View Larger Map
I expect the Cisco Field footprint to be even smaller than what I've posted because my model doesn't employ long cantilevers or columns like the 360 model we saw previously. Going small comes in handy in this case.

Specs are still the same:
  • 32,000 seats plus
  • 1,000 or so standing room
  • 40 suites
  • 40 minisuites
  • Playing field 12 feet below street level

The 4 acres south of the ballpark have to be tantalizing as they're a blank slate. Some parking will go there for sure. I wouldn't be surprised if the A's/Sharks/SJRA figure out a way to stick a concert hall down there.

Comment away (please stay on topic).