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.