In the morass of national and statewide election coverage, it can be easy to lose sight of several things that are at stake in the Bay Area tomorrow. This time, there really isn’t much to argue about, at least as far as the future of the A’s in the Bay Area is concerned. There are no stadium ballot measures anywhere in the state, let alone the Bay Area. The 49ers stadium is past the point of no return, and the Warriors are probably a year or two away from a proper ballot proposition for their SF waterfront arena.
In Oakland, Ignacio De La Fuente and Rebecca Kaplan are squaring off for the latter’s At-Large Council seat. A small amount of attention has been paid to their stance on the future of pro sports in Oakland, with De La Fuente saying he doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past (Mt. Davis) while Kaplan is using the Coliseum City project as a tenet of her plan to boost Oakland’s economy. Election of either doesn’t make or break any kind of stadium deal, though momentum, such as it is, could grow or dissipate depending on the choice.
Kaplan touts that she was able to secure in $40 million in TOD (transit oriented development) funds for Coliseum City. The key there is the passage of Alameda County Measure B1, a raise of the sales tax from 0.5% to 1% to help fund up to $8 billion worth of transit-related projects over the next 30 years. B 1 is both a raise and an extension of Measure B, which is set to expire in 2022. If B1 is defeated, B would continue through the planned expiration date, though it’s likely that there would be another attempt to boost the sales tax again to fund transit projects. B1 requires a two-thirds supermajority to pass. No polling has been done to gauge interest, but B1 has broad support among governments, civil and business groups, and the media. Surprisingly, one notable anti-B 1 column was written by the Oakland Tribune’s editorial board. The Chronicle and East Bay Express both support the measure. If both B 1 and Prop 30 pass, Oakland’s effective sales tax would be 9.5%.
What would happen to the $40 million Kaplan earmarked for Coliseum City if B1 is defeated? It’s hard to say where replacement funds would come from. Transit projects all over the country compete for federal matching funds, making it necessary for Oakland and Alameda County to bring some skin to the game in order to get federal grants. There’s still bonding capacity within the Coliseum JPA and bond ratings are good, though that may be more due to the bonds being chained to city and county general funds than anything else. There’s also a question of the total cost of the project and scope of the money’s use. While TOD funds could help improve the Coliseum grounds and infrastructure, they couldn’t be used for any stadium facility. It would make more sense for city/county to reserve the ability to issue bonds for the actual stadium(s), as the NFL generally expects.