Why San Jose is NOT Miami

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the Miami Marlins ballpark deal (better late than never?). Now Field of Schemes has dug into the matter further, revealing that the investigation may be much broader than a look into how bonds were secured and pay-to-play. In fact, a mention of last year’s Deadspin exposé of have-not teams may end up being a convenient piece of evidence in the suit. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Now, there are some who will try to conflate what was done in Miami with what could happen with the A’s in San Jose. That would be terribly unfair. Not only has the City been clear about the land deal terms, it has at every milestone reinforced the notion that the final stadium deal will be approved (or not) by a public referendum. City has also published what its negotiating principles are, as shown in the resolution passed in September 2010.

WHEREAS, the Council desires to reaffirm the following previously-approved Negotiating Principles that will guide the City’s efforts in bringing a Major League Baseball stadium to San Jose:

1. No new taxes are imposed to fund ballpark-related expenditures.

2. The City must determine that the ballpark development will generate a significant economic benefit to the City and have a positive impact on City General Fund revenues.

3. No public funds shall be spent to finance or reimburse any costs associated with construction of the ballpark or construction of any on-site infrastructure or improvements needed for the ballpark.

4. No public funds of any kind are spent to finance or reimburse any ballpark operational or maintenance costs related to activities conducted by or under the authority of the baseball team that uses the ballpark either at the ballpark or in the streets surrounding the ballpark.

5. No public funds shall be spent to finance or reimburse the cost of any traffic control, street cleanup, emergency or security services within the ballpark site or within the streets surrounding the ballpark that are related to activities at the ballpark conducted by or under the authority of the baseball team.

6. If the property is leased for a ballpark, the baseball team must be willing, at the end of the term of the lease, either to purchase the property at fair market value or to do one of the following things at the City’s option and at no cost to the City or the Redevelopment Agency:

a. Transfer ownership of the improvements to the City or Redevelopment Agency; or
b. Demolish the improvements and clear the site to make way for other development.

7. The entity that builds or operates the ballpark must be willing, if the City deems it appropriate, to make the ballpark available to the City during baseball’s offseason for up to 10 days per year for community-related events, at no rental charge to the City.

8. The name of the baseball team must include San Jose.

Has anything changed? Nope. The important thing is that City realizes that and remains steadfast, and that Lew Wolff knows it. He’s been espousing a privately financed stadium since he assumed ownership. If he were to change his stance now or anytime in the near future, you know what will happen? He and Mayor Reed will lose whatever public support they had. It’s that simple. I like to think that in California, we’ve learned over the last decade not to be taken when it comes to stadium deals. Cisco Field will, eventually, be a test and a testament of that experience and wisdom. I believe we’ll do it right and set an example for the rest of the country and the next generation of city leaders and team owners to follow.

109 Responses to Why San Jose is NOT Miami

  1. Columbo says:

    @Dan – Your comment seems to be a personal opinion regarding SF Niner fans based on your personal experience. There are many people against the move to SCL. I live on the peninsula now more toward SF and many of the people I have encountered in that area are totally against it, i.e. my in-laws as one example who have been niner fans for decades. That is my personal experience. I may be incorrect but I think I read somewhere that some local politicians are pushing for them to change the name from SF if they end up moving. I’m a Raider fan so I could care less either way but I feel for the hardcore niner fans who have been loyal for many years who are against this. This is strictly an assumption on my part but perhaps your personal experience is with people that live further down the peninsula and in SV. If that’s the case then I obviously wouldn’t be surprised that these niner fans would be ok with the move. Also note that the SF city manager is not giving up hope to keep them in SF. He has recently hired a firm to design a new stadium at HP and there are rumors that this firm has ties to an investment company willing to put up some dough for construction. Hey, it may be a pipedream at this point in light of the recent financing announcement for the new stadium but I just beg to differ that there are not many SF-Only folks because there are.

  2. pjk says:

    I’ve been skeptical of the Santa Clara site, but it sure looks like a done deal at this point. Financing in place, Great America pacified, suites being sold. Niners are gone from Frisco. People with Frisco addresses only comprise about 5-10 % of the season ticket base. Tells you right there how much Frisco cares about NFL football.

  3. kevin says:

    Anyone who says that the VC site is better than Diridon, is sadly mistaken. I think the 21,000 who showed up at 8am on Thanksgiving and paid to run a 5K or 10K a couple of blocks from where the new stadium will be, would back me up. No more cold nights in April, May, June, July, August. The fog doesn’t come in til late at night. That’s just another reason that Diridon is better. I hate to say it, but I don’t think the A’s care if the 400 “old line” fans who come to games, hold up signs “bad mouthing” the owners, and complain everytime the bleacher pay structure gets changed, make the 45min wagon train to SJ. Just like some of us have for 30 yrs. 880 sucked way worse in 1983 in a Volkswagon Dasher. 2 lanes all the way through Milpitas. We used to leave 2 hrs early. Suck it up ladies, or don’t 400 more seats for us. Besides, how long do you think you have to wait for someone to respond to a comment on the “Pro Oakland Stadium website”? This small minded way of thinking is exactly why there’s no new stadium in Oakland, and why ownership(Warriors and Raiders too) can’t wait to get the Hell out of town. The Giants are trying to keep the South Bay for their own, for a reason. The Same reason they wanted to move here 20yrs ago. They just don’t have a legitimate claim now that they have the nicest park in all baseball. Imagine how screwed the A’s would be if ATT was a dump, and only sold out 75% of the time. I’ll be interested to see if attendance at the O actually goes up, when people from the South Bay start getting excited about the stadium. Wouldn’t take much.

  4. eb says:

    “I hate to say it, but I don’t think the A’s care if the 400 “old line” fans who come to games, hold up signs “bad mouthing” the owners, and complain everytime the bleacher pay structure gets changed, make the 45min wagon train to SJ.” 400? Really? Way to dismiss a large portion of the fan base who are upset. It’s comments like this that fuel the division between the fan base.

  5. pjk says:

    re: a large portion of the fan base
    …How large is it? A handful of fans in the cheap seats holding up anti-Wolff banners. Once again, it’s easier to blame the so-called greedy capitalist owners than to put the blame where it belongs: Oakland politicians who proudly hindered the A’s for many years and did nothing to help them get a new ballpark.

  6. eb says:

    @pjk If the size of the fan base determines the importance of an issue or gives reason to be dismissive of complaints, then Bud Selig was perfectly right in blowing off the A’s all these years. I mean there are very few A’s fans East Bay/South Bay/anywhere, right?
    Look, disagree with a perspective all you want, but trying to cast it as illegitimate with gross generalizations doesn’t help anyone involved.

  7. Columbo says:

    @eb – I agree with you but this is a futile effort. They say we’re blaming the greedy owners and dig at the fan base, i.e. 400 fans. Yet what business are you aware of, anywhere, that customers are blamed for the product? If a company sells fewer widgets and continually loses money it must be the consumer who is stupid. Ok.

  8. pjk says:

    Well, how well have fans supported the A’s in Oakland throughout the years;. Not very well, for the most part. For example, the A’s in 2006 were AL runners up.. At the gate, they were ranked 26th in attendance that season. We have to conclude the A’s product is not very sought after in the East Bay.

  9. David says:

    If the east bay is so close to the south bay, then why has attendance been low (y’all can drive up, as easily as we can drive down)? The product, that’s why! Stop throwing stones at Oakland when its the lack of talent on the field that has not impressed A’s fans (anywhere in the Bay Area).

  10. eb says:

    @pjk “Well, how well have fans supported the MLB in the Bay Area throughout the years;. Not very well, for the most part.” Fixed it for ya.

  11. Nam Turk says:

    @eb – I agree with you but this is a futile effort.They say we’re blaming the greedy owners and dig at the fan base, i.e. 400 fans.Yet what business are you aware of, anywhere, that customers are blamed for the product?If a company sells fewer widgets and continually loses money it must be the consumer who is stupid.Ok.

    You’re calling it blame but that’s going overboard. If the widget doesn’t sell, that means there isn’t a strong market for it. There’s no fault involved.

  12. pjk says:

    We do drive up. But being 30 miles away, it’s not our responsibility in the South Bay to fill a ballpark built for you guys in the East Bay. I went to one of those free parking Tuesday nights a few months ago ($17 value) – something like 13,000 people there, with the usual acres and acres of empty seats. And the East Bay folks have BART access – we in the South Bay must drive to at least Fremont or to the “ballpark” itself… Was it the lack of talent in 2006 that kept the seats empty? What were the figures in here – 15 times in the playoffs, 7 times in the top half of attendance rankings. 7 times in 44 years.

  13. eb says:

    @pjk It’s been the responsibility of ALL A’s FANS. Going to games, watching on tv, listening to the games on radio, etc. That is the job of A’s fans all over the Bay Area and it has not been done. Certainly the burden is heavier on the East Bay to do all of that, but A’s fans as a whole have been substandard. Just as the Giant fans were pre yuppie park.

  14. Tony D. says:

    @Dan way back. I’m probably wrong, but I believe when the Niners are firmly rooted in SC area bigwigs will push (or offer incentive$) for them to change their name: either San Jose or Silicon Valley. Feel eventually locals will sour on having that smaller town 45 miles to the north with their initials on the helmet. Not suggesting the Niners or NFL would go for it, just that locals will push for it (imagine the coup for SJ to “steal” SF’s team). Silicon Valley would work to.

  15. eb says:

    Bottom line, a new ballpark will do wonders for the franchise in either Oakland or San Jose. I’m rooting for Oakland, as you know. But after the park the front office and ownership have a LOT of work to do. The A’s aren’t in a position to just cast away some fans and hope to become the dominant team in the market, which they should be striving towards. F being the Angels of the Bay Area, if you keep winning and market like a wizard you can compete directly with the Giants, as they did during the Haas years.

  16. daveybaby says:

    The East Bay has been the target population for this team, and it seems the East Bay is just not responding anymore. I mean, how much cheaper can tickets get? And you can pull a 1989 out as proof of the fandom all you want. But you can’t have it both ways and ignore 2006. AT & T has changed the game completely.

  17. jk-usa says:

    I’ve been to A’s games in the late 70′s where there were not much more than 400 fans on a typical weekday game, and a few thousand more on weekends. It’s amazing that we still averaged 18,460 last year with a sub-par team, in a sub-par venue with sub-par ownership with the WS champs across the bay packing then in. Baseball for it’s first 80 years never averaged more than 18k a game. It’s over 30k now, with all the new cool venues helping the growth, and that can be achieved in Oakland if given a fair chance with open-minded ownership. But wih Oakland haters like Wolff, Selig and Reinsdorf, I’m wasting my time even holding out for a fair shot.
    BTW, Mr. Reinsdorf, your Whitesox just hit 2 mill in attendance last year. We outdrew you in our football park in 99, 01, 02, 03, 04, not to mention most of the Haas years before New Comiskey was built.

  18. eb says:

    “BTW, Mr. Reinsdorf, your Whitesox just hit 2 mill in attendance last year. We outdrew you in our football park in 99, 01, 02, 03, 04, not to mention most of the Haas years before New Comiskey was built.”
    That’s what was ironic about the whole comment. The White Sox haven’t drawn very well historically and are in a part of Chicago that many deem as less than desirable.

  19. Columbo says:

    @Nam Turk – “You’re calling it blame but that’s going overboard. If the widget doesn’t sell, that means there isn’t a strong market for it. There’s no fault involved.” I beg to differ. What if the widget sold before but has now declined? Is it possible the people selling the widgets have something to do with that or is that still the consumer’s problem? This is not the same thing as more umbrellas being sold in Seattle than in San Diego because that is an obvious market for an umbrella manufacturer. It’s not as if there is zero market for baseball in the east bay.

  20. Sid says:

    Guys, traffic goes towards the East Bay at night.

    If you take 680 south from the East Bay to San Jose there is no traffic except by Capitol Expressway sometimes not every day. You can get to Downtown SJ with relative ease. I know because I used to work in the Tri-Valley area for years and I live in San Jose.

    880 is tough because going south bound 4 lanes go to 3 and the 101 interchange is a mess. But help is on the way, a 4th lane has been approved from 237 to 101 and will be done by the time the A’s move to San Jose in 2015….State and federal $$.

    Going up 880 without a carpool is murder in the evenings from San Jose. Everyone is going home that way. Flow of traffic is very important for fans to get to games.

    SF from SJ on the other hand you can take 280N all the way and not hit any traffic at all. That is because everyone takes 101 since most live off that freeway commuting.

    In the end, the attendance is one thing, but overall demographics of a region say a lot. SF is just too close to Oakland and they got a huge head start with ATT in 2000.

    That plus the fact for south bay people it is not worth it to drive to Oakland…..You may as well drive a bit further to SF and hit zero traffic on 280N.

  21. Marine Layer says:

    Let’s see, Reinsdorf owns the historical second banana team in a two-team market, threatens to leave and negotiates a way to stay in market, gets a new stadium built right next to the old one in a historically depressed part of town. He wins a World Series and maintains a competitive roster over the last decade. And now some of the pro-Oakland crowd is cherry-picking the White Sox’ attendance numbers? Do you realize how many parallels there are in Chicago to the dream situation you perceive for Oakland? That is desperately grasping at straws, people.

  22. baycommuter says:

    ML– Excellent point, with the caveat that the area around the Coliseum is a lot less scary than the area around U.S. Cellular.

  23. kevin says:

    Last time I checked, we had the best widgets in 01,02, really, really good widgets in 00,03,and 06. Not too bad in 04, and 05 either. The agument that the better the product on the field the better attendance is so weak. For one, Duh. Everyones attendance is better when they win. New ballpark or not. The proof is when the widgets win 100 games, and can’t even come close to selling out the widget playoffs. What’s the excuse for that?
    THE LARGE PORTION of you should have showed up for more playoff games when you had the chance.

  24. eb says:

    @ML The point isn’t that Reinsdorf is incompetent. It’s just ironic that he would call Oakland “past its prime” based on low attendance and a depressed area. Your post just further illustrates that irony.

  25. eb says:

    “past its time,” sorry.

  26. Simon94022 says:

    @Colombo– I don’t doubt that SF city officials are upset about the 49ers move, and maybe some longtime fans who live in or right by the city. But the reality is that the 49er Faithful for the most part aren’t passionate about this one way or another. It’s just a different location for home games, but the team’s identity is not going to change.
    @Tony D.– the idea that the 49ers might change their first name is laughable. New Jersey is still waiting for at least one of the football teams for whom they have built two stadiums to consider dropping New York. The Rams didn’t even think about adding Anaheim or OC to their name when they played in the Big A. NFL is way too brand conscious to give up marquee city names. And if you’ve ever lived on the East Coast, you know that Bay Area = San Francisco in the public mind, and even in the business world Silicon Valley = Palo Alto more than San Jose.

  27. Anon says:

    I’m in Taiwan on a business trip about to head to Shanghai and I see I haven’t missed much in the way of arguments….lol.

  28. Marine Layer says:

    @eb – The difference between the Chicago market and the Bay Area is that there is no equivalent San Jose for Reinsdorf to run to. He’s stuck on the South Side.

  29. eb says:

    @ML There is no wealthy suburban area in or around Chicago? I’m not familiar with the area and I know there isn’t Silicon Valley money, but I imagine there were alternatives. Even if there weren’t though, my point still stands. He made it work.

  30. jk-usa says:

    Put a New Comiskey type park ANYWHERE in Oakland, we will outdraw the Chisox with similar records year and year out I bet. They’ve drawn 2.9 mill twice, we did it once, but they had some dreadful 1.3-1.6 mill years with halfway decent teams in new Comiskey, which is an okay park, but on the lower half of the new ones.

  31. pjk says:

    Comiskey (US Cellular Field) was built with public funds, which are not available in Oakland.

  32. Marine Layer says:

    @eb – There’s not enough population density and no municipal government large enough in the Chicago suburbs to make a play for the White Sox.

    @jk-usa – Oh, so easy to make such a claim when you have no way to back it up and no track record to support it.

  33. Anon says:

    There’s a big problem in your New Comiskey park, it would be in Oakland and not in a tier 1 city like Chicago which could support 2 parks, whereas Oakland can barely sustain 1. That’s the reality of being in a “depressed area” (RIP Al D.).

  34. Tony D. says:

    @Simon way back,
    Big, big difference (literally) between New Jersey, Anaheim and San Jose…got 1million residents and an economy that trumps all? Look, SJ has the Sharks and will soon have the A’s; our profile will definitely be on the rise. So its not a stretch to envision the Niners taking the name of a large city only a few miles away vs a smaller burgh 45 miles to the north. In closing, SF won’t be the top dog in the Bay Area forever ..why not change this in the next few years?

  35. jk-usa says:

    I know Chicago teams have been just so-so lately, but for a tier 1 city 2 team market, Chicago not tearing it up overall at the gate:
    LAD+LAA=75,300 fans (+13 over .500)
    NYY+NYM=75,100 (+24 )
    ChiC+ChiSox=62k (-24)
    SFG+Oak=60k (-4)
    Balt+Wash=46,700 (-25)
    Just the NYY made the playoffs. Combines record in (brackets)

  36. jk-usa says:

    @TonyD–LMAO… what the hell have you been smoking? Smaller burgh 45 miles north? You mean San Francisco, one of the premier cities in the world? No way in hell the 49ers will change to San Jose 49ers or Silicon Valley 9ers or anything close to that. SF carries way more cache than SJ and Oakland combined, times 10. Not sure about the Raiders if they move to SC, but I believe they’ll keep it Oakland., that gritty bad boy image that seems to be their thing for years. Changing to San Jose Raiders is just wrong too, just like the A’s. So instead of the black hole you’d have the texting, social media zone. As soon as the TD alert comes up on their smartphones, they’ll look up and cheer for a second, and then back to their typing and scrolling.

  37. jk-usa says:

    oops.. I meant cachet, not cache.

  38. pjk says:

    The 49ers will keep the Frisco name, even though almost nobody in Frisco cares about the team. That’s why they’re leaving in the first place – Frisco won’t build a stadium for them and nobody there cares that the team is leaving. Raiders, meanwhile, will head back to LA once and for all…

  39. eb says:

    @pjk So if a city won’t build a stadium with tax payer’s money it means they don’t care about the team? I generally dislike the 49ers and SF as much as any Oakland Raider fan, but to say SF residents don’t care about their team is ridiculous.

  40. pjk says:

    Go to Frisco and see you see any outpouring of grief about the 49ers leaving. Only 5-10% of the season ticketholders have Frisco zip codes. The Niners management knows this and is very comfortable leaving Frisco for Santa Clara…

  41. Tony D. says:

    First of all, don’t smoke. Second, if this “SF has cachet” theory was true, then why aren’t they the “San Francisco Sharks, San Francisco A’s, San Francisco Raiders, San Francisco Warriors, San Francisco Earthquakes”? Answer: because the “cachet” crap is just that, bull $hit! Look, Frisco is always going to be that city that out of town relatives salivate to visit; this will never change. But to suggest that the city name for a sports franchise is sacrosanct is ridiculous (jk saying something ridiculous..imagine that). If Frisco doesn’t care for the team, why not have the Niners name reflect where they play (just my opinion).

  42. Anon says:

    San Jose Raiders? /vomit

    I’ve asked this before and will ask this again. If push comes to shove and somehow Oaktown, the East Bay, and it’s citizens gets to decide its own fate. Would they (you) support increased taxes to pay for a new stadium? And it’s a yes or no question with no clauses, just simply if you will finance the stadium similar to the SC deal?

  43. Columbo says:

    @pjk – “Raiders, meanwhile, will head back to LA once and for all…” Wow! Do you know something we don’t know? Or is this more of kicking someone while he’s down? Let me guess. By 2016 Oakland will have zero professional teams, right?

  44. pjk says:

    I don’t have any inside info. I just won’t be surprised if the Raiders end up occupying the new stadium in LA. They apparently don’t want to be part of the new 49ers stadium and Oakland, of course, doesn’t have $1 billion on hand to build them a new stadium. How interested is Al Davis’s son in owning the team? Guess we’ll find out soon if he’s in for the long haul or will unload his shares to folks in LA. Mark Davis went to Dublin to pitch a new stadium a few years ago and was told in kind terms – no way no how not ever…

  45. Tony D. says:

    IMHO, I believe the Raiders are going to help out the Niners with their new DEBT SERVICE in SC.

  46. Demo J says:

    @ Tony D

    While I’m with you on San Jose raising it’s profile, getting the A’s and all that, as a Niners fan in Silicon Valley, I’d actually be pretty upset if they dropped San Francisco from the name. The history is just way too important. Most SC County 49er fans would probably agree.

  47. GoA's says:

    Don’t necessarily disagree on the sf name but Eddie D did try and take the SF off the helmet in the 80′s-

  48. Dan says:

    Tony, the Niners aren’t going to change their name. They’ve stated as such. And having the SF name has never been an issue for the Niners in selling sutes previously. It won’t be down south either. They may not be in SF proper but the “smaller” city is still the anchor city of the Bay Area, the namesake city of the bay area, and the social and cultural center of the bay area. That will never change even if the Niners move. Some politicos like that annoying Diane Feinstein might be pushing for a name change, but they don’t have a foot to stand on, and would be opposed by politicians in New York, Texas, Florida and DC in her efforts (and that’s just the NFL cities).

  49. eb says:

    ” I’d actually be pretty upset if they dropped San Francisco from the name. The history is just way too important. Most SC County 49er fans would probably agree.” Wow, switch SF and 49ers to Oakland and A’s and you have part of the issue a lot of us have been debating over. Interesting parallels too, bad 60′s/70′s attendance, 1st and 2nd in Bay Area championships, current ownership that has/had divided the fan base and an old stadium. Granted the 49ers have been king of the Bay since the 1980′s.

  50. Dan says:

    So what you’re saying is that if the Oakland A’s moved to San Jose and didn’t change their name that a majority of their fans who are currently objecting to the move, wouldn’t object to the move? Some how I doubt it’s that simple. Fact is the A’s leaving is not just about the name, it’s about the loss of yet another piece of prestige from Oakland. Name or no name, the A’s leaving is a blow to what’s left of Oakland’s civic psyche. Meanwhile the Niners leaving SF is hardly a blow, it’s still their “bay area” and always will be.

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