Monday, March 30, 2009

So things are getting interesting

First of all I have been absent due to a family issue, my 90 (almost 91) year old father in law has had some health issues and has moved from his home to my brother and sister in laws house. For the last month we have been cleaning out his house (60 plus years of stuff mind you), painting, ripping out bathrooms, and so on, in order to get it ready to rent. No, we are not finished yet, however we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

So, in my absence from this blog (but not the news) a few interesting things have popped up on the radar. First of all we had a guest opinion piece this weekend in the Mercury:
Is a baseball stadium in downtown San Jose a good idea? As city officials again seek to bring the A's to San Jose, this is a question that must be considered carefully, with full, open public involvement.
The city is wisely starting a Diridon Station Area planning project, but the baseball stadium is not part of this study. It should be added, if the city is serious. However, the tail shouldn't wag the dog.

The transit center will be much more than a service for a stadium. It will be an important gateway to and catalyst for downtown San Jose. Land around it will become much more valuable. Stadium projects typically are subsidized in part with low-cost land grants and property tax abatements. Are there other land uses for this valuable location that may provide greater long-term economic benefit to the city and significantly reduce our structural budget deficit?

I agree with Helen Chapman that an open and thorough process is paramount in our quest to bring MLB to San Jose. As to the land use issue Chapman brings up, business always brings in more tax dollars then housing, so the discussion on what will bring the greatest long-term economic benefit to the city needs to compare apples to apples, ie, what other types of businesses could have the same impact on our economy as a stadium.

On that point we can look to the economic impact from HP Pavilion:

A new study this month commissioned by the folks who run San Jose's HP Pavilion produced some staggering numbers about just how successful the downtown arena has been since its opening some 15 or so years ago.

Total events? 2,600. Jobs created? 5,000. Cumulative economic impact? $1.7 billion. And, the study by Berkeley-based SportsEconomics asserts, San Jose every year sees a direct infusion of $5.4 million because of the stadium. All that for the comparably paltry $165 million it took to get the thing built.

Keep in mind that there was opposition to the Pavilion, yet you would be hard pressed to find anyone who owes up to that opposition today. Clearly the Pavilion has been an asset to our city, and in my opinion, a new stadium with a MLB team would be an even bigger asset in the long run, and we will need to remain engaged and involved with the process to make our dream a reality.

Along with the opinion piece and stats on HP Pavilion we also had a glimpse of some interesting statements by Lew Wolff:

He pointed out that San Jose officials have selected a site and completed environmental studies necessary to build a ballpark, and that a business group is preparing to start a campaign in support of an A's move to San Jose.

"I think they probably are in as good a position as anyone in California," said Wolff, who is co-owner of the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer. "They are the 10th-largest city in the country."

The article also mentions that Wolff is actively seeking a solution to the territorial rights with MLB. While the territorial rights are an issue, they are not a deal breaker by a long shot, and as has we all know, the bottom line is what works best for MLB and not just one team. There is no doubt that keeping the A's in our area is good business, the fan base is here, we have great weather, a large metropolitian population, great public transportation to the proposed site and we already have proven that we have the ability to support a sports franchise (Sharks).

Here is a good take on the territorial rights issue:

There's only one thing keeping Wolff from living out his San Jose fantasy, and that's the San Francisco Giants holding the territorial rights to the San Jose area. The Giants are unwilling to budge on that one, and they're doubling down on their angry public rhetoric. "Baseball's constitution defines Santa Clara County as the Giants' territory," Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said. "It's the heart of our fan base in many respects."

San Jose is the heart of the Giants fan base? Does Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter know where the Giants play their games?

This will manifest as a war for the hearts and minds of Major League Baseball owners. MLB comissioner Bud Selig, Wolff's former fraternity brother, is already down --writing in a January letter that he supported the San Jose move. The owners would have to approve the move with a three-fourths majority. It's a double-edged sword for them. They share revenue, and owners would love to see profits maximized within the Bay Area's largest and wealthiest city. They would all profit from that move. On the other hand, this opens the door to other teams moving into their markets, so they'd have to consider the precedent that their own turf could also be put up for grabs.

Last, but never least, a few housekeeping items:

1.) Our facebook group is 649 strong and growing, keep up the great work everyone!

2.) Don't forget to RSVP for Tuesday, April 7th (San Jose City Council), stay tuned for more information and details.

Play ball San Jose.

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