Despite assurances from SJRA officials last month that the agency would have enough funds to take care of the remaining land buys for the Diridon site, it now appears that they are running short. However, even if they do Lew Wolff may be ready to buy the rest of the land, or even the entire site if need be.
“There isn’t a redevelopment agency or city or federal or state government that isn’t in some form of disarray at this point,” Wolff said Thursday of the agency’s struggles.
While he and agency officials both said no details of a possible land purchase by Wolff had been discussed, the team owner pledged: “Whatever issues we run into, we will figure out how to get them done. We will not let anything stand in the way of getting the ballpark done.”
This sets up a number of land acquisition/swap possibilities:
- It’s possible the A’s could buy the land and give it back to the city. That would set up a situation in which the A’s could pay a discounted lease on the land until the City reimbursed the team.
- They could also try to buy the existing public parcels and the remaining ones, making the entire thing privately held. There would be a snag if the landowners were unwilling to sell, because a private interest can’t exercise eminent domain as a city can. If the A’s managed to pull this off, it would probably be the biggest political winner, since the perception of a handout by the city, such as it were, would vanish. $20+24 million for a guaranteed electoral victory in March? It’s worth a cost-benefit analysis at the very least.
- The team could also buy the public parcels, giving SJRA enough cash to buy the remaining parcels and fund the Autumn Parkway project. The land could be given or sold to the agency, with the cash transaction part happening sometime in the distance.
As mayor Chuck Reed said, “There are half a dozen different ways to put together a deal.” The ones listed above are just off the top of my head.
Even with the low funds situation, City officials are putting on a brave face.
“We’re committed as a city to move forward with the stadium, because it’s the most promising economic development project we’ve seen in the last decade,” Councilman Sam Liccardo said.
“I don’t expect the redevelopment agency’s fiscal problems will prevent us from finding a creative solution.”
Offering to help a municipality is not a foreign concept to Wolff. He offered to pay for upgrades to Phoenix Muni, only to get a collective shrug from the city. The Quakes also paid for upgrades to Buck Shaw Stadium in order to make it a (not so) temporary MLS facility.