San Jose’s Field Of Dreams

In a recent letter to the Mercury News, San Jose resident Pirouz Maghsoudnia questioned the wisdom of giving a public subsidy to a baseball franchise in these troubled economic times.  “The City of San Jose…does not have money to fix its streets, cannot provide police and fire protection for its residents or keep its libraries open, but has millions to bring a baseball franchise to downtown.”  Maghsoudnia points out that taxpayers are being asked to prepare for service cuts while the city is selling assets for $20 million to assemble the lot for the stadium.

Days earlier, from the Mercury News...“Mayor Chuck Reed was quick to defend the plan as a sound investment for economic development not a senseless subsidy for a wealthy professional sports owner.  Even though San Jose faces layoffs and massive service cuts and a $116 million hole in its general fund, proceeds from any RDA land deals can only be spent on redevelopment projects, not everyday city services, [RDA Director Harry] Mavrogenes stressed.”

I’m in favor of the A’s moving to San Jose, provided that a sensible deal can be struck.  But, is it wise for the city to “put the cart before the horse,” and a stadium before a team?  Is it right for the city government to be making expensive moves before the territorial rights issue has been resolved, and before San Jose voters have expressed their approval at the ballot box?

Maybe, just maybe, San Jose city officials have already been given whispered assurances from Major League Baseball that there’s a will to find a way to San Jose.  Let’s all hope so, otherwise we just might be building the proverbial bridge to nowhere, and an expensive one at that.


  1. With HSR and BART next door, that parcel is going to get utilized with or without the stadium, definitely not a waste of money.  Also by selling off 2 key downtown parcels to Sobrato greatly increases the chances they will be developed. The Sobratos are more than willing to invest downtown and have the rare ability to stick to their original vision and not compromise (e.g. empty blue Sobrato tower).  I think we’ll see 2 new great developments downtown and either a ballpark or another key development in the Diridon site due to this deal. 

    Personally, I think the A’s stadium could have the most positive impact downtown since the San Jose Arena (which was 100% public money btw).  We would be getting a phenomenal deal with the A’s.

  2. Joshua makes good sense.  He makes good lemonade out of the sour lemons, Petey of the Trust Fund likes leave us with.  Campbell Logic:  2 plus 2 equals four, when I think it does, but it might lead people to think it comes out 5.

    The reason why Yahoo and other major corporations are developing here in the South Bay is due to the efforts of Mayor Reed and Mayor Mahan to work to bring the axis of professional sports down here.

    Petey, aren’t you recovering from your tootsies buring on the high school turf?  Maybe Sven at the Country Clubs needs to rub your feet more, than every where else!

    • The reason why Yahoo and other major corporations are developing here in the South Bay is due to the efforts of Mayor Reed and Mayor Mahan to work to bring the axis of professional sports down here.

      This is the biggest lie ever printed on SJI.  Congratulations. 

      Companies are in this area because this is where the employees are, not because a baseball team might someday be here.

      If you are that hard up to get support for your stadium then you may as well give up.  Lies will come back to bite you in the rear.

  3. It is indeed sad that our society puts sports and entertainment ahead of civics and education.

  4. How much money is this stadium deal going to cost the city? You have to factor in the land plus extra costs of traffic and law enforcement that ballpark will require. It might sound wonderful to bring the A’s here but with the city claiming it’s broke this is not the right time.

    • I’m not sure what the terms of the A’s deal would be, but I know the 49ers would have to pay for law enforcement and traffic management costs if they move to Santa Clara.  Anyone know who pays those costs for the Giants or Sharks?  You would think it would count as game day operations costs and the team would pay for it.

      Also on the other side of the coin you have to think about the thousands of people that would be patronizing local businesses due to the stadium.  Many businesses in the Diridon area would not exist without the Sharks.

  5. San Jose is facing a deficit and cuts because of its poor management of pensions for unions.  That’s what needs to be fixed.  To allow this problem to prevent the city from getting a once in a lifetime deal of a privately funded and operated stadium from A’s ownership would be a travesty.  Buying land (especially land expected to be used either way, as Josh pointed out) for the stadium is a sound investment, one of the few things our leadership is doing right.

  6. How many times must it be stated that Redevelopment funds (by law) can’t be used for stuff like “civics and education!?”  Besides, the tax money generated by the ballpark and ancillary development will go back into the city’s general fund, and hence will help fund stuff like “civics and education.”  Oh and by the way, the $462 million ballpark will be PRIVATELY financed; talk about excellent economic stimuli!

      • Actually it would be better than free, as it would generate a revenue stream for the city of San Jose much like the Arena (both directly and indirectly), at no cost other than the opportunity cost of the land.  If your bridge can say the same, I’m sold.

    • Those who believe this savior of San Jose will be free should agree to cover the costs—just in case it turns out the PR spin on this turns out to be just a little inaccurate. Deal?

  7. San Jose pays yearly tax subsidizes for Arena and parking lots rented way below market rent considered by pro owners best deal in professional sports giving owners millions in extra profits

    Soccer Stadium will be built with profits from rezoning of Hitachi retail shopping center land as San Jose gives up more needed jobs and retail land for unneeded housing

    Baseball Stadium will get both redevelopment and city tax subsidies

    After billions spent by city and RDA on downtown it only generates less than 2 1/2 million in sales tax not counting extra $ 1miilion year in police costs million less sales tax than less than privately build Santana Row   Oh but we lovvvvve downtown

    Pro Sports looks for next greater fools – San Jose’s Reed
    and Santa Clara’s Mahan – your it

    Billionaire sports owners always cut better sports deals than any city council always have, always will

    If you think different look at deal sheet not economic development funny numbers study Sports owners always come back for more city money or revised ( better ) deal

    Anyone who believes bought and paid for financial whiz who wrote economic reports is a fool

    • So the San Jose Arena was a mistake?  You may really be one in a million, because I don’t think anyone else in San Jose will agree with you.

      Also why don’t you use the same name or at least a consistent title.  I have a feeling that half of the cynical posts are coming from the same person.

    • Do you, and Greg Howe above, really believe our city would be better off without HP Pavilion?  Heck, has AT&T Park been a bad deal for San Francisco?  Answer those questions with a straight face!  And again, for the umpteenth time, the ballpark will be PRIVATELY FINANCED (like AT&T Park in San Francisco) and WILL NOT require redevelopment or city tax subsidies to build (repeat that to yourself 100 times).  And no, the land acquisition costs don’t equate to a public subsidy, as the city has been land banking property for development for years.  Like the Sun rises every day, that’s the truth.  Repeating the same old lies over and over again will not make them true; but it’s your world, so have at it if you must.

      • Tony, I am sincerely excited that there truly is an Easter Bunny.  I do however remain interested in knowing if the Tooth Fairy is real.

        • Resorting to childish commentary/rhetoric = I’VE LOST THE DAMN ARGUMENT!  Really Greg, it’s OK to be on the wrong side of an argument; no need to resort to Easter Bunny’s and Tooth Fairy’s.  That is all.

        • Tony,
          Don’t take Greg too seriously. If he doesn’t agree he tends to make things personal and divert the oppositions valid points.

        • JC,

          I really don’t get all that personal.  I observed questionable logic and I made light of it – it’s that simple. 

          I frequent this column as much for humor as I do for information – some folks appreciate it and some don’t.  Makes no difference to me.

  8. I think it is idiotic to spend the money now on a stadium, particularly with no team in hand, and no guarantee we could keep it. The city is spending a lot of money on EIRs, proposed transportation changes, etc.  If the stadium is privately funded, why don’t THEY buy the land and develop it? Then it is just a zoning and permit issue.  Please show the public the numbers on how this consortium of private funders is reimbursing the city for its expenses and I will stop bitching.

    • The land is getting built out either way, and the EIR is a rounding error compared the the amount lost due to pension policies. Also, since the deficit is such a hot topic, just thought I’d throw out a few fun stats.

      – Los Angeles, pop 3.8m, $6.2b budget, $484m deficit
      – Chicago, pop 2.9m, $8.51m budget, $520m deficit
      – Phoenix, pop 1.6m, $3.7b budget, $245m deficit
      – San Jose, CA, pop 1.0m, $2.9b budget, $117m deficit         – Detroit, pop 900k, $3.7m budget, $300m deficit
      – San Francisco, pop 810k, $6.6b budget, $500m deficit

    • All of the stadium proponents are glossing over the city-contributes-the-land thing. If this baseball stadium is such a wonderful thing. let the team buy the land and build the stadium.

      • Stadium opponents are overly obsessed with the relatively small investment the city is making.  Cities sweeten deals to attract businesses that will be beneficial all the time.

      • You realize the RDA is buying the land right, not the city?  This is what the RDA is designed to do, aggregate parcels to use for redevelopment projects like the convention center expansion.  They are just making it easy for the A’s to come to San Jose if that comes to fruition.  If not the A’s the RDA will use the land for something else, or sell it.  There is no hurt in having ownership of this property.

        An RDA investment will not affect the general fund at all… and if fact they are not investing new money.  The RDA sold 2 downtown properties to Sobrato in order to buy up the last of the parcels needed for a stadium.

        • “The RDA sold 2 downtown properties to Sobrato in order to buy up the last of the parcels needed for a stadium.”

          The RDA needs to sell the rest of its land and go out of business.

        • Maybe San Jose should go out of business. This whole Silicon Valley anchor thing isn’t working out so well.  Let’s bring back the orchards my friends!


  9. If Baseball park does not require any city taxes to build then why is a vote being taken as required by city charter ?

    Are you saying city will not be subsidizing Baseball Park after it is built?  Very Unlikely

    HP Pavilion receives both annual tax subsidies, marketing and lower rent compared to other arenas and parking lots

    HP Pavilion makes lots of money for sports owners and local business but not city who built building and has to pay mortgage and extra city services

    ” AT THE TIME THE CITY originally signed the management deal with Sharks owners George and Gordon Gund in 1991, it was widely regarded as the “sweetheart deal” of the decade.

    For one thing, the city paid for the bulk of the development costs for the Arena—at least $147 million. But that wasn’t all. City leaders, led by then-Mayor Tom McEnery, gave the Sharks and its alter-business ego, the Arena Management Corp., total control over building operations and revenues. That meant the Sharks got money from all Arena events, including non-sporting events like Disney on Ice and the recent Dixie Chicks concert.”

    “The Mercury News reported in 1994, at the end of the Sharks’ first season in the Arena, that the team was one of the most profitable in the NHL, estimating the team made a profit of $10 million on $40 million gross revenues. The Mercury News attributed the Sharks’ financial success to the agreement with the city, citing industry experts who described it as “the league’s sweetest lease.”

    ” don’t have to show their books to anyone, including San Jose city leaders.

    That is why team critics are skeptical about whether the Sharks are really losing money. “

    You can’t fool the people, about sports deals

    • All possibly decent points about HP Pavilion.  Too bad they’re not relevant, because this time the team is paying for the stadium.  How many times do we have to repeat this?

  10. All the no public subsidy people went to colleges with no public subsidies and never got a scholarship or student loan. They plan to refuse Medicare enrollment and do not claim tax deductions.

  11. Why were Newsom’s campaign volunteers handing out to South Bay delegates at the State Party convention flyers saying No Way on Measure J?

    The flyer says “Paid for by…” some SF group.