As the developer turns
Maybe the thing that plagues Lew Wolff the most is an extraordinarily bad case of timing. Exhibit Z: The Merc’s John Woolfork reports that the City of San Jose is considering a second break for Wolff’s purchase of the Airport West (FMC) property, on which the future San Jose Earthquakes stadium would be built. Last year, Wolff and company were granted a $43 million discount, from $132 million to $89 million. The new break would involve extending the deadline to buy the land to 2015, with the option ($2-4 million) used to apply towards the purchase price.
If Wolff were only looking to build the Quakes stadium in San Jose, this would have been a done deal. However, I’ve speculated in the past that if both teams were to play in San Jose, the stadium deals would be linked. Forced to scramble for cash to help finance both projects, Wolff has to be looking at the Quakes’ funding mechanism as something to tap for Cisco Field. Making things more difficult is the value of Airport West, which multiple sources in the article indicate has dropped below the renegotiated $89 million price tag. It’s possible that Wolff pushed for the outright land purchase, but given the wasted investments in Fremont, he (or his partners) may be a bit gunshy.
The irony of these delays is that they affect the Cisco Field project. Wouldn’t $89 million be more than enough to buy the remaining Diridon ballpark parcels and fund area improvements? The City has halted future land purchases until MLB decides, which puts the onus back on Bud Selig and his panel. As this saga drags on, it only becomes more difficult and costly for all parties.