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. eb says:

    @Dan If the 49ers left SF and changed their name to the San Jose 49ers, you don’t think that would be a blow to SF? Really?

  2. eb 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?” BTW, not what I was saying at all. I was more pointing to that fact that to some the name “Oakland A’s” carries a lot of historical significance.

  3. Dan says:

    Not really no. Only 10% of the Niners season ticket holders are from SF. And being a large international city with very diverse tastes I don’t think the vast majority of SF residents would give two shits if the Niners not only left but changed their name. As it is most of them don’t care the Niners are leaving at all anyway.

  4. Gojohn10 says:

    Another reason why the Marlins and A’s situations are different: the A’s will be putting money into the stadium, not free agents (at least immediately preceding a ballpark opening). Since Miami got the park “on the cheap” they can spend like crazy w/o piling up too much debt.

  5. hecanfoos says:

    eb: “I was more pointing to that fact that to some the name “Oakland A’s” carries a lot of historical significance.”
    As much as the name “Philadelphia A’s” did 60 years ago?

  6. mainea'sguy says:

    The 49ers are named for all the gold miners who disembarked at the port of San Francisco in 1849 bound for the California gold rush. The name would make no sense being associated with any other city. It’s a pet peeve of mine when team names don’t match the city they represent. For example, there are lakes in Minnesota, but not LA, so “LA Lakers” makes no sense. Same goes for “Utah Jazz” (formerly New Orleans)- I’m not a religious scholar, but I don’t picture Mormons being the type of folks who jazz it up much. The name “Athletics”, on the other hand, is generic enough to fit anywhere.

  7. pjk says:

    Nobody on the Frisco City Council or the mayor risks defeat at the polls by letting the 49ers leave. Now if Frisco decided to pony up a big pile of $$ to keep them there, these pols would be voted out at the next opportunity. How did Frisco reward Mayor Frank Jordan’s valiant efforts – akin to a Hail Mary pass – to keep the Giants in town? Booted him out of office as soon as it was possible, of course….49ers name makes no sense for any other city? How do you explain the Long Beach State 49ers?…

  8. mainea'sguy says:

    Long Beach State was founded in 1949. So that name makes sense for them.

  9. Demo J says:

    eb says: 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.

    I sympathize with the Oakland fans on this, I really do. Unfortunately that’s not the reality of the pro sports world. Call it hypocritical or inconsistent and you may be right, but it’s the truth. 49ers keep the San Francisco name because they are moving to Santa Clara, a small city. Small cities don’t get their names on pro sports franchises (Green Bay and others are exceptions). If the A’s move, they have to add SJ to the name because it is the 10th largest city in the country. And of course there’s the SF name which we’ve all covered.

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