02 June 2009

Fireworks start early in Santa Clara

There's no shortage of different perspectives going into tonight's Santa Clara City Council vote. While the vote itself appears to be something of a formality (I don't expect more than 1-2 dissenting votes), all interested parties are positioning themselves for the nearly year long campaign ahead.

Noted Stanford sports economist Roger Noll weighed in with a similar tone to his appraisal of the Fremont plan. Remember that a couple of years ago, Noll proclaimed the Fremont plan more viable than Santa Clara. Now that Fremont has bitten the dust and it's a bit early to know what all the details of the A's-to-San Jose are, the 49ers' plan will avoid the direct comparison. Noll goes on to say that "you're still going to end up with a better deal than just about any other city has received." The public vote that will occur next spring is really a question of whether or not that's good enough for Santa Clara.

Field of Schemes' Neil de Mause also chimes in, properly raising the $330 million question about the stadium authority, which to me is the chief concern. Most of the other issues directly related to the stadium deal have been reasonably well addressed, especially concerns about cost overruns and revenue shortfalls outside the $330 million Authority portion.

I'd love to comment on the letter of support from Santa Clara Unified School District ($141 million in positive impact potential), but I honestly can't make heads or tails of the economic impact projections stemming from use of the RDA passthrough mechanism and state "Basic Aid" payments.

Mark Purdy, by far the biggest supporter of moving teams to the South Bay, has a few choice words for opponents of the stadium plan. He's not afraid to get himself a little dirty here. I wouldn't be surprised if he was waving an American flag while writing the piece.

SF Mayor Gavin Newsom may have misfired with his rather provincial sounding advice for Santa Clara. I have to wonder if his prime motivation is not so much the Niners as it is to keep developer Lennar going at Hunters Point.

A few hours ago, Ohio-based theme park operator Cedar Fair yelled out like an aggrieved ex-boyfriend crashing a wedding. They'd prefer that the Council vote take place after Cedar Fair talks Great America with the City and the 49ers a week from now. I thought the timing was strange when I looked at the Council schedule, and now I think it's pretty clear: the City won't allow Cedar Fair to be more than a detail in the deal.

I'll end this post with a little friendly advice for the anti-stadium crowd: Focus on the costs of the plan, not on what profits the team will make. The clearest, most rational way to go about this is to talk in terms of costs and benefits. There are some anti-corporate, anti-business sentiments creeping up, and making those a main thrust is a good way to turn off the voters. Stick with the facts.