San Jose and SC County officials working out ballpark land deal

We expected a decision on the Diridon land transfer to be released by the State Controller sometime in the late summer. Or late September. Now it’s almost November, and a spokesman for the office has said to the Merc’s John Woolfolk that “there is no set timetable” for a decision.

That hasn’t stopped City and County officials for working on a contingency plan. If the transfers are upheld by the Controller, the ballpark land deal can move forward, with Stand for San Jose’s legal challenge the last real obstacle. If the transfers are declared illegal because of the new redevelopment law, the county-led successor agency would be required to sell the land for market value, at least double the negotiated $7 million land price. The big news in Woolfolk’s piece is that San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Santa Clara County Supervisors Dave Cortese and Mike Wasserman are working together to fill any gap that might arise.

“The county does have the capacity to assist in some manner,” Cortese said. “We do have an economic development director and are involved in economic development, so we are equipped to come in and assist if there’s a shortfall and a problem. It’s in our interest to see that this kind of economic development project goes forward.”

Wasserman added that “at the end of the day it could be a win-win if the property is sold at market rate” even if the county has to contribute toward that because “that accomplishes what the state wants and the land stays here” for a ballpark.

Reed, Cortese, and Wasserman will all say that besides the PR positives that would come with bring the A’s south, all sides, including the state, would benefit from $5+ million in property taxes every year, or possessory interest taxes that would approach that figure. When the parcels that make up the ballpark land were privately held, they were also held for long periods, making assessments and property tax bills rather low.

Behind the scenes, Cortese is a leading candidate to succeed Reed as mayor. Reed will be termed out, and the two frontrunners are Cortese, a former San Jose District 3 councilmember, and Sam Liccardo, who is the current D3 councilman. Cortese also has worked with Baseball San Jose in the past. Wasserman (no relation to the late Fremont mayor Bob Wasserman) hails from South County, representing Gilroy, Morgan Hill, South San Jose and Los Gatos.

Perhaps a tightened up land deal is the kind of signal Bud Selig needs to help him render a decision. In an article by the LA Times’ Bill Shaikin, Selig continued to the kinds of frustrating non-answers we can expect. We’ve learned not to expect, well, anything from Selig all these years, and there’s no reason to start expecting anything now. But just as an ace can get an umpire whose strike zone isn’t the size of a barn, or a grounder can bounce off the third base bag to trigger a rally, this is baseball. Anything can happen, and often does.

Update 5:00 PM – A flood of tweets have come in from local media and Shaikin as they bombarded Selig on the subject of the A’s. Selig is in town for the World Series, naturally.

As John Wooden once said, “Don’t mistake activity with achievement.”

30 thoughts on “San Jose and SC County officials working out ballpark land deal

  1. Selig can:
    * Let the A’s go to San Jose.
    * Deny San Jose, which means the A’s stay in the Coliseum probably for many. many years. I thought Selig didn’t want that? If he wants the A’s out of the Coliseum, he’ll need to approve San Jose.

  2. RM,
    perhaps I’m interpreting this stuff all wrong, but maybe the state should seize the land and make things a lot easier for SJ. Think about it: land seized, county sells land to Wolff for same current price and makes up for the shortfall to get to “market value” …no vote/referendum now needed and stand for SF’s wild claims get shot down. A win, win?

  3. According to the Shaikin interview, Selig says he STILL “doesn’t know” if a new ballpark in Oakland is even feasible. Really? After all of these years? That should tell us something.

  4. “Doesn’t know” is about as close to “no” as he can admit at this stage.

  5. Marky, you’re not. I have one in my closet already.

  6. So much for the whole Solomonesque solution by the end of 2012. This crap is never going to end.

  7. Your move Oakland….. /crickets

  8. As an eternal optimist: to much internal machinations going on within MLB to simply tell Wolff at this point “you’re staying put!” May the A’s status quo soon RIP…

  9. Yikes…I wonder what Quan and her henchmen are thinking now ….this is not got at least on wolffs part. Well Oakland , at least on your/even more my part attend more games in 2013…A’s swagga will be back. Giants just borrowing

  10. @dan- the city and county aren’t getting their ducks in a row for nothing- not sure where the pessimism flows from- greener pastures are ahead!

  11. GoA’s, the city and county can get their ducks in a row all they want. It’s all for naught if Selig isn’t going to make a decision, which it sounds like he’s not making this year, and frankly doesn’t seem keen to make at all. The status quo is what he’s happiest with at this point because it means no lawsuits.

  12. @Dan,
    What lawsuits?…

  13. Yawn…same old same ol news. What do you expect from the used cars salesman. He will never tell you what you know or want to hear, he is just going to find a way to make MLB richer by extorting the A’s, Oakland or SJ. 2 more years and counting until we get a new commish..(hopefully)

  14. this San Jose park might be the most complicated stadium deal in the history of stadiums. the probability that this actually happens now is seriously low. Mr Wolff, please move on. Try something else dude, you tried bro and you gave it your best. But now its now time to lick your wounds and find your next best option.

  15. Tony, someone will sue MLB whichever way Selig decides. Be it the A’s or SJ if he says no. Or the Giants or a proxy if he says yes.

    • Tony, someone will sue MLB whichever way Selig decides. Be it the A’s or SJ if he says no. Or the Giants or a proxy if he says yes.

      Lawsuit delays after waiting years for a MLB decision would be a nightmare, but Dan’s right. Once we get a decision, some upset party will find a way to delay the project further.

  16. The Department of Finance and the Controller’s Office are completely overwhelmed with the challenges and requests for meet-confer sessions that cities and counties have filed. Things are moving very slowly in Sacramento. All successor agencies in the state are making the argument that the State should allow them to spend bond or tax-increment money to finish projects that happened to be in progress when the law changed. In the long run, the argument goes, we’ll reap huge tax revenue when the projects are complete. The DoF and Controller are supposed to cast a cold bean-counter eye on such pleas. It’ll be interesting to see how the bureaucrats sort it out. Personally, I think they should affirm any property deals made or bond money raised before the late June 2011 date the law changed. Transactions that occurred after that date, however, may get unwound.
    In any event, it sounds as if the boards and successor agencies in control of the Diridon property’s fate will be able to get their deal done, although it may cost more than they’d like.

  17. @dan- there is no way that bs is going to tip his hand or make the SJ ballpark a top news story during the ws–especially one being played in SF! He said so much himself with the quote–”
    Selig insists the situation is “still on the front burner.” He has spoken recently with A’s managing partner Lew Wolff, Selig’s longtime friend and fraternity brother at Wisconsin. “I have a committee very hard at work, ongoing with all that, and they continue to work hard,” Selig said. “I’ve been talking to them a lot the last four or five days. There isn’t anything more to say. I know you’d like to talk about it. I’m sensitive to that, I appreciate it. But let’s concentrate on Game 2 of the World Series.” he goes on to say “I don’t think there’s any question that they need a new ballpark. That would not be a shocking front-page story I don’t think,” he said. “I don’t feel any pressure. The only thing that will guide me ultimately on every issue is what I think is in the best interest of baseball. That is the only pressure I ever feel.”

    Given that Mayor Reed is meeting with the County Sup’s to get their ducks in a row and bs saying that his decision will be in the best interest of baseball and he has publically implied previously that the gints were not operating in the best interest of basedball I’d say he’s given some pretty significant clues as to which way things are headed. Lawsuits…sure—which is probably why LW is willing to consider the 5 year lease at the coli—are there lawsuits that will shut down the project–no–but delay it until 2018–possible—

  18. All you lawsuit doomsdayers need to know three things: the Expos now play in DC, the Niners stadium is being constructed and the Quakes recently broke ground on their SSS. WHEN MLB announces the deal for SJ, that will presumably mean the Giants are on board with it, thus removing them from any lawsuit equation (putting aside the fact that they can’t file lawsuits anyway under MLB Constitution, but whatever). After that, what grounds would their possibly be for a successful, delaying lawsuit (que sound of crickets)? As with the first three examples, once these things are approved and/or get past the first wave of frivolous litigation, there’s really no stopping them. In closing; relax people!

  19. I have yet to hear a viable answer to the questions: Who would the SF Giants sue? What would their claims be?

  20. Tony D.: Whether there’s an actual lawsuit following an MLB decision or not, this entire saga has been nothing but a delay. 2012 is nearly complete. Whether MLB made a decision 3 years ago or 3 days ago, it doesn’t change the fact that something– whether it’s a lawsuit or the threat of one– is delaying this project as you read this. Saying there won’t be delays while we’re in the midst of a giant delay is craziness. In closing, I think the people not putting their hopes into one city or the other are the most relaxed.

  21. @steve- the SF gints are suing now under the front organization of Stand for SJ—their focus would be on the development of the ballpark, acquisition of remaining parcels etc—I’m not implying that they would be successful but no doubt they will delay the start of construction—check out how developement lawsuits impacted Petco for nearly 2 years–

  22. @Briggs,
    Your opinion brings up an interesting point: the almost 3.5 year delay in getting a decision from Selig/MLB. WHEN the deal for San Jose is announced, that will be the secondary big news of the day: what the hell took so long?! With the exception of perhaps RM, none of us know that answer. I have some theories just like everyone else: uncertainty on the SJ land deals (as of now the entire plot STILL hasn’t been acquired), Wolffs ability to finance Cisco Field and the remaining mortgage on AT&T Park. Whatever is delaying the decision aside, don’t think lawsuits will play a big role here on out.

  23. BTW,
    if you ever want to disgust and humor yourself at the same time, read the comments thread over at Sfgate. What a bunch of “Lewsers!”

  24. Okay, if they have to pay market value, it would be an extra $7 million? Lew Wolff would write a check for 7 million if it bought him a green light to build. If Bud (or the owners ) say “go ahead and build,” and the lawsuit posesmore than a temporary setback, I bet ownership just ponies up $7 million (better than the $10 million they paid for a dozen starts from Ben Sheets). Problem solved, “Stands for SF—I meanSJ” is dissolved.

  25. Lewers? A’s nerd humor. I love it! Just made my day, no joke.

  26. Admittedly, I’ve been watching the Gnats games with my buddies, and I am ashamed to say it but I am jealous. I am jealous that they have a wonderful park they call home, while we continually have stupid press conference about vaporware proposals. I am jealous that they sellout all the time, generating enough revenue to keep their marquee players long term. I am jealous because the fans only concentrate on the game and get to enjoy it without any distractions. I am jealous because their fanbase is united even with all the stupid pandas, beards, and tainted milk crap, while we continue to alienate / berate one another because of where we live at. This WS is sickening me but making me open my eyes of how truly shitty this whole situation has become….sigh.

  27. @anon,
    All this “pain” we’re currently going through will make Cisco Field that much sweeter. Yes, its probably 5+ years away, but I’ll take an announcement and fresh bash of renderings in the interim. Downing cold ones while viewing 360 Architects renderings on this site? Sounds good to me 😉

  28. Tony D and Steve are both spot about the Giants owners’ group. The Giants opposition to the A’s move to San Jose is so whacky there is likely no legal precedent behind it. In a two team fanbase situation, it is quite certain that no pro sports franchise has ever attempted to block the other team from moving further away – this must be a first in professional sports.

    Even if the giants were somehow able to defeat the MLB ATE in court they would still lose – the ATE would no longer be able to protect the giants opposition to the A’s move. If the Giants challenge the A’s without challenging the ATE, their attempts would be feeble and likely not be much trouble to defeat. An out of town organization such as the Giants, meddling with San Jose and the A’s in Santa Clara county and in a Santa Clara county courtroom, would have a difficult time appearing legitimate. There is plenty of precedent backing the A’s though, there have been plenty of NFL franchise relocations, the Raiders for example, which have successfully relocated their teams.

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