City of Santa Clara Measure J
Last week, the National Football League decided that the 2014 Super Bowl will take place in New Jersey’s Meadowlands Stadium, home to the New York Giants and Jets. Everyone in the New York metropolitan area is happy about this—and not just football fans. The nation’s biggest sporting event will bring hundreds of millions of dollars in direct revenue to the region, along with other economic benefits.
If voters in Santa Clara decide to allow the San Francisco 49ers to build a stadium, the same thing will happen here—that’s a stone-cold lock. The Meadowlands was selected for Super Bowl XLVII because the New Jersey Sports Authority just built a new stadium there. Last year, the Superbowl was held in North Arlington, Texas, right after Dallas Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones built a stadium there. That’s how it works.
This is not to say that Santa Clarans should vote yes on Measure J just to bring a Super Bowl to the neighborhood (or the World Cup—also a possibility). This measure deserves support because the stadium will have a big positive impact on the region—economic and otherwise.
Building the stadium will mean a bunch of construction jobs right now, in a down economy. Every year after that, the stadium is projected to generate $249 million in ongoing economic activity from home games, concerts and other big events. That’s full-time and part-time jobs, hotel stays, restaurant meals and tax dollars for local coffers.
This would also have powerful symbolic value. It will be a new piece of evidence that Silicon Valley has arrived as a center of power and activity.
The vast majority of the $823 million cost of the stadium will be born by the 49ers. Measure J calls for Santa Clara to pony up $114 million, which will come from Redevelopment Agency funds and a hotel tax that voters passed last year.
San Jose just saw an example of what a sports arena can do for a town a few weeks ago, when HP Pavilion hosted the semifinals in the NHL Stanley Cup tournament. The Shark Tank was built with almost 80 percent public money, and that investment has paid off big time, week after week, in hockey season and throughout the year. It’s a safe bet that this one will too.
School Bond Measures
In this age of after-school program cuts and increased class sizes, when it comes to education-supporting measures like A, B, C, E, G, H, I and L, it’s foolish to say no.
In the case of Measure I, there’s one caveat. The measure would bring $3.3 million to the Alum Rock School District, and that school board needs to get its act together. Alum Rock has had a history of questionable spending, and oversight may be needed to ensure that this money go to its intended use: helping keep East San Jose K-5 classes small.
The Alum Rock school board also must become more open to sharing the revenue with some of the district’s public charter schools—so far, Alum Rock Superintendent Jose Manzo has made sure they are cut out from the measure’s language. However, overall these measures deserve and need the public’s support.
San Jose Measure K
As sin taxes go, San Jose’s Measure K is actually pretty tame: it would increase the city’s card room cap from 40 to 49, and raise taxes on casino revenues from 13 to 15 percent. The biggest change it would bring about is the lifting of San Jose’s long-established $200 bet limit.
Detractors say that decreasing card-room regulations will damage neighborhoods and bring increased crime and loan sharking, particularly in Silicon Valley’s gambling-plagued Asian communities. However, most civic leaders have come out in support for K because it will rake in about $5.25 million a year to help curb San Jose’s mammoth budget deficit.
In the age of the internet, online casinos offer gamblers unfettered access to the action. If locals choose to drive to the Garden City Casino or Bay 101 instead, the city’s residents might as well benefit from it. Measure K will do more good than harm.