05 May 2009

Quakes get land discount + TIF approved for Diridon/Arena area

Following up on an item from last month, San Jose's Redevelopment Agency (City Council wearing different hats) unanimously approved the price cut for the Airport West site, from $132 million to $89 million. The land will be used for the Quakes' new stadium, plus some future commercial development. The discounted price is $8 million more than what the City paid in 2005.

On a more A's-related note, SJRA also approved creating a tax increment zone just north of the Diridon South ballpark site. The area includes Diridon Station and the 8 blocks between HP Pavilion and the ballpark site, with Guadalupe Parkway/CA-87 on the east border. Virtually all of this area is zoned either industrial or commercial. At least one site, the old SJ Water Company land bought by Adobe, has development plans underway.

TIF funds could be used for the new infrastructure stuff we've discussed previously, from the new multimodal transit hub to additional parking to open space. It's hard to say what yields they are expecting, but it stands to reason that whatever gets built, TIF will be stretched out enough for the corresponding projects to be paid for.

Tying the two news items together, it'll be interesting to see how quickly construction begins on the Quakes stadium. As I understand it, the land there is already graded and ready to build. Should a new stadium have it groundbreaking in the summer or fall with visible progress over the next several months, it would be a major achievement politically for the City and A's/Quakes ownership. It's expected that the ballpark will have its own ballot measure, and there's no better political capital than showing that you're getting something done - with your own money, nonetheless.

Minority partner Saperstein fires back at Russo

While I would just as soon prefer the A's saga not get played out so publicly in the media, it makes sense for members of the ownership group to circle the wagons when they get attacked. And so minority partner Guy Saperstein wrote into the Trib with a strongly worded rebuttal of City Attorney John Russo's letter last week. Saperstein, a retired Oakland lawyer who contributes to several left-leaning websites, doesn't quite fit the profile of collusive carpetbagger many have bestowed upon Lew Wolff. I will be curious to see if, oh, Zennie Abraham and Rich Lieberman devote as much blog space to Saperstein's letter as to Russo's.

Saperstein ends with a sentiment echoed by this blogger and many others (though not all) throughout A's fandom:
What is most noteworthy about Russo's commentary is what it fails to identify: A single viable stadium site in Oakland. Russo writes a long commentary claiming that "feasible options for a new ballpark" exist, and that it only takes "imagination" to find it, then fails to identify a single feasible option, or indeed, any stadium option.

The time is long past for platitudes and empty rhetoric from grandstanding politicians who aspire to be the next mayor. If you have a secret stadium site and plan that no one else has yet seen, Mr. Russo, let's see it.

The key word there, of course, is viable. I guess we'll find out if it exists in a week. Can't wait.

On a related note - how many more lawyers are we going to hear from? I'll put the over-under at 3.