Did San Jose Strike Out?

UPDATE: After a full day of meetings with MLB President Bob DuPuy yesterday, Mayor Chuck Reed has concluded that it would be best not to put the Downtown Ballpark Measure on the ballot until the MLB’s special committee makes a final decision whether to allow the Oakland A’s to move to San Jose.  When questioned about the cost of such a vote, DuPuy reportedly told Reed that the MLB would help pay for it. According to some reports, DuPuy’s offer also implied that a decision would be made by the end of the year. If so, the special vote would be held in March.

It came as a big surprise to almost everyone, including Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig: Mayor Reed’s decision to go forward on the downtown baseball stadium.  Is Reed’s push a smart move that will demonstrate the city’s commitment to host a major league team, or is it a desperate move that will destroy the chances to bring the A’s to San Jose?

“We were surprised and disappointed by the news…about the stadium referendum,” the commissioner’s office said in it’s release.  “We were not part of the process and had no knowledge that a decision to proceed with the election had been made.”

It seems odd that the mayor’s office wouldn’t have given Selig a head’s up on the decision.  The Mercury News reported that, “The mayor’s staff said Reed had tried to contact Selig about the ballot measure earlier [that] week but never heard back.  Other sources, however, say the only outreach by the mayor’s office was early Friday morning [July 23].”  Interesting.

It’s also curious that the local press (apart from this blog) has not picked up on SF Chronicle sportswriter Bruce Jenkins’ thesis, that Selig’s decision on the A’s is being held up for a reason completely unrelated from the territorial rights issue; that the commissioner wants to use the threatened elimination of two teams (the A’s and Tampa Bay) as bargaining chips in next year’s contract negotiations with the players’ union.

In baseball, one of the worst things that you can do is take a called third strike.  The same is true in politics.  If you’re going to lose, at least go down swinging.  At first blush, I thought that Mayor Reed had blown it.  Why act unilaterally, without the coordination (and tacit approval) of the commissioner’s office?  But then I realized, that this is exactly the right strategy to pursue.  Commissioner Selig’s hands (and tongue) are tied.  He can’t say what he wants or doesn’t want.  He can’t direct a course of action until sometime next year.  Selig has to stall.  So, why Selig is stalling, Reed is playing hardball!  Push the referendum forward, take the commissioner’s “scolding,” and laugh all the way to the bank sometime next year when Selig arrives at an agreement with the player’s union, and announces a deal to compensate the SF Giants for their territorial rights.

Swing and a miss?  Hardly…Reed may have hit a home run.


  1. Where is the rumor that the Rays and the A’s are facing elimination coming from? Last thing I read was Selig denying this:

    Q: The A’s and Tampa Bay Rays are the two teams still looking for a new ballpark. When the collective bargaining agreement expires next year, so does the moratorium on contraction. If the ballpark situations are not resolved, would you consider folding the A’s and Rays?

    A: No, I wouldn’t. I think we have moved past that. We’re going into 16 years of labor peace. I regard that as maybe the prime reason for the growth of the sport.

    From: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/athletics/detail?blogid=21&entry_id=67685#ixzz0uzre9nPj

    Of course, it could still happen… It’s not like MLB has gone against its word previously.

  2. Last night, it was announced that Reed may back off his push after MLB offered to help pay for a special election next year(if required). Perhaps Reed’s actions served as the catalyst to get MLB to finally make a decision.

  3. Why has San Jose become one of those back-to-the-past places? We used to be on-to-the-future. We were known for innovation and creativity. We made things and ideas. Now all we can scrape up is a baseball stadium. We’re being, to use a great word, snookered. Just read the first chapter of The Fix is In, the new and controversial book by sportswriter Brian Tuohy. It’s a well-documented picture of how club owners have scammed American cities for their new stadiums. Don’t fool yourselves. This stadium is not for San Jose; much better and more profitable use could be made of that land. Does anyone really think that the stadum will attract industry, while the schools and SJSU are slashing programs? This stadium is for the club’s owners, the liquor industry, sports media, and their political friends. Everything Reed and his Baseball San Jose buddies promise might happen but on a much, much smaller scale than that promise.  Maybe that defines San Jose these days—small—and as Reed’s tantrums show, puerile.

    • It’s always cute when someone reads a book and then acts like an expert.  Did you stop going to McDonald’s after reading “Fast Food Nation” as well?  How informed you are!

      “This stadium is not for San Jose; much better and more profitable use could be made of that land.”

      Um, like what?  More half-full high rise condos?  Commercial real estate, you know, since all those buildings in North San Jose aren’t empty?  The “land opportunity cost” argument is easily the worst stadium naysayers have come up with.  No one else is interested in that land.

      As for the “sports teams are scamming cities” argument, that applies when cities help fund building a huge portion of the stadium.  This is not the same as the $900M the Yankees got or the Chargers request for $500M from the city of San Diego.  For the baseball stadium, San Jose is buying land to lease to the team and building some infrastructure around it.  That’s all.  It’s similar to AT&T Park in SF.  SF gave the Giants land for free and extended a Muni line and the team took care of the rest on their own.

      The deal between San Jose and the A’s is reasonable.

      • Finally,
        A poster who actually makes sense!  Way to go SJ Resident!  As for Downtown Girl; perhaps it’s time for you to become “Los Banos Girl.” (as in small-town USA might be for you!)

      • She’s entirely correct.  Building major league stadiums is a scam on the taxpayers, a fact widely understood on both the left and the right.  But sports fans often out-number the politically informed, alas.  I’m thrilled this proposal will be on a Special Election ballot in March, as its much less apt to pass in such a scenario.  Many of the people voting as sports fans, rather than as citizens, won’t even know about the election.

        • Saying “she’s entirely correct” does not address my point that this case is different. 

          As I already said, the city investment is not on the same order as other cases.  And here’s another point: the scams are generally when teams threaten to leave their host city unless they get a new stadium.  Then a city is basically held hostage.  To attract a team with such a small investment is a win for San Jose.

        • People please!
          The Sun rises in the East, and no amount of saying it “rises in the West” will change that fact.  The A’s ballpark will be PRIVATELY FINANCED, meaning Lew Wolff will pay for the ballpark, not I or you!  Why some of you continue to close your eyes and cover your ears to that fact is beyond me.  The land won’t be given away to the A’s but will be leased; hence no corporate handouts to the A’s.  Why is it so hard for some people to come to grips with this reality?!  SHE’S ENTIRELY WRONG KEVIN!  As for the special election in March, the mostly young/progressive population of San Jose outnumbers any day the geriatric/“Keep San Jose in the 1950’s” crowd.  If the Santa Clara/Niners initiative was any indication, the ballpark ballot measure will pass by a landslide!

        • It doesn’t make any difference if the ballot measure passes by a landslide or not (if it ever gets to the ballot.) If MLB says “no” to the move it has all been a waste of time and money.
          Reed will either look brilliant or like a fool. I’m betting on the fool category. Once again, San Jose will have been played for chumps.

        • 1.  The same people, including a worthless political slug named Brian Darby, attacked the Santa Clara stadium using misinformation.  Darby claims to be a political professional (on dating sites), and is just some cutey pie at National Semi.  Since he was head of the Libertarian Party which is against the San Jose stadium plan, Libertarin Registration is down fifteen percent.

          2.  It does not matter if the San Jose stadium passes, and it will pass, Tony D., the same group of naysayers will continue to object.  Indeed, the treasurer of the anti stadium group in Santa Clara has a picture he displays of a little girl being roughed up by a football player.  Imagine the anti baseball crowd’s tactics.  Two slate card companies took payments from Santa Clara Plays Fair and there is a complaint filed about the fact that the group refused to disclose it which is required.  Imagine what the opposition will do in San Jose.

          3.  This not about good government, this is about naysayers who revel in San Jose and Santa Clara about being noticed and it is a endorphin high for them to be interviewed and get their picture in the paper, but when all is said and done, Tony hit it right on the head, the project will get 60 percent of the vote, because despite the “bed bugs of opposition with no purpose in life” types who attack the proposal, there are still people who work for a living who have families that want to see baseball in San Jose, and football in Santa Clara.

        • Geez, if you represent the proponents then I’m batting for the other side. You may have a valid argument but constant nonsense and attacks on individuals in Santa Clara is a major turn-off.
          Not to mention that those opposed to this also have some valid arguments. When and if there is a vote, hopefully there will be a rational debate and an educated decision can be made. If not, I’m sure you will continue to contribute your vendetta-driven attacks and turn supporters into opponents.

        • Aw, Babe… there’s plenty of nastiness on both sides.  Welcome to anonymous message boards. smile

          No single voice represents everyone.  Don’t let it get to you.

        • Hey Babe:
          Comment was probably written by James Rowen, a member of the Democratic Central Committee.  This stuff is tame compared to the trash he puts up on his site.  see: missioncitylantern.com

          I guess the Democratic Central Committee endorses this garbage, as they never speak out about it.

        • Didn’t you write something about the guy always writing about you.  Seems you think a lot about things to say about someone else.  Ps, are you are a registered Democrat, Pete?  No, I am sure you would not like the unions who contribute to them.  Aren’t you the guy who thinks public employee unions are terrible?

        • The Central Committee can’t control who gets elected to our body.  In 2008, there were too few candidates in the 22nd AD, so James became a member.  He rarely attends the meetings and didn’t run for reelection.  So he won’t be a member anymore in January. 

          His blog is his own thing and does not speak at all for the party.

        • If indeed he does not speak for the party, why don’t the members of the committee stand up and make that clear?  You didn’t even attach your name to your comment. Surprised that you would let one member undermine the Party to the extent that he does.

        • Yeah, building a stadium for the benefit of the multinational corporate entertainment establishment is uber progressive.

          I have a few decades to go before I’ll be “geriatric,” never-the-less, I wouldn’t be surprised if “Downtown girl” is younger than both of us.  In any event, if I have to rely primarily on the votes of people older than myself to defeat this proposal, I’d say that stands my side in excellent stead, since old people vote at over twice the rate of young people, ESPECIALLY in special elections.

          If you want to live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York, then freakin’ move there!

        • Please don’t expect a rational debate on this issue. If Santa Clara raised $5 million in private money, San Jose will probably double it. You will see a load of money poured in by the proponents and little attention to opponents in the press and media, which have special interests (advertising revenues from the club owners, liquor interests, bars, etc.). Local press does not do sports journalism. How do I know this? Ok, I’m going to reveal myself. Back around 1980, I covered the first big college basketball scandal for the NYTimes. I was just a Times stringer, and I had never covered sports, even though I was staff on my home paper. So I called a friend at the Times’s Washington bureau and asked him how to do this sports story. His answer was that this was not a sports story, it was a crime story, and that was how to cover it. Boy that was a swift kick and a swift lesson. The A’s are a business and the effort to move them to San Jose is a shady business story. When a city’s governance is turned over to a baseball owner, the system has been corrputed, big time. That part of the crime story will never be covered, not even in the so-called alternative press.

  4. Go to Drudge and Prison Planet today

    2017 is the date when America ends but Reed gets the A’s


    Amidst chaos the Cisco Clan establishes martial law in San Jose.

    Reed named Civilian Protector of Greater San Jose.  Food and electricity rationed but if you say good things about Major Campbell you will get soup and electricity.  If you have daughters, Pasha Victor will get you meat from his compound in Modesto next to his prison.  Just don’t check the cuts.

    Baseball and bankruptcy

    • When ever you read a comment on San Jose Inside that makes little sense, it’s usually from James Rowen, a member of the Democratic Central Committee.  Check out his blog: http://www.missioncitylantern where many get labeled as drunkards, druggies, or fools.
      QUESTION:  What does the Democratic Central Committee have to say about all of this stuff?  Do they support it?

  5. Not caring one way or another about the ballpark, I should mention that some readers believe that, “The land won’t be given away to the A’s but will be leased; hence no corporate handouts to the A’s.”

    It should be said that it’s not ownership but use of an asset that carries the value.  Hence, a long term lease on real estate or a piece of construction equipment or an automobile has value to the user.  To own the asset provides nothing additional, given the time value of money (inflation and nominal rate of return).

    Many long term leases are, in fact, recognized as capital leases, essentially very much akin to installment sales.  Accordingly, providing the lessee, the A’s in this case, with a bargain lease rate, (anything less than fair market value), is indeed a partial or complete land give away and,therefore, is a corporate handout.

    • Mr. Howe,

      True enough.  I do have to point out, however, that while the pro-stadium spin is that it’s free, the anti-stadium spin exaggerates the cost.  There is no line of developers fighting for that land.  Furthermore, the money the city will spend will come out of the RDA budget, not from schools or police officers. They’re going to spend that money on something Downtown.  A baseball stadium is by far the best place it could go.

      And terms like “corporate handout” imply that any subsidy is unacceptable.  Cities subsidize businesses all the time, often with good reason.  Do you really think Cisco pays market value for land?

      I have no illusions about getting the A’s for free.  The point I’m trying to make is that the deal is fair.

      • The phrase “corporate handout” was used by a prior poster, the same one who believed that there was no give away.

        RDA money is not restricted to projects located Downtown.  The same money could be spread across the entire city.  It’s been fairly well demonstrated that the 3 billion spent Downtown thus far has not materially changed the fortunes of the district.

        • “RDA money is not restricted to projects located Downtown.  The same money could be spread across the entire city.  It’s been fairly well demonstrated that the 3 billion spent Downtown thus far has not materially changed the fortunes of the district.”

          It could be spent somewhere else… but do you really think it will be?  I think it’s important that people realize voting against the stadium (should it come to the ballot) saves no money, only tells the RDA to spend money elsewhere.  And given their history, you probably won’t like where it goes.

        • That’s because the money spent downtown is thrown after the same kind of development – high rise housing and corporate headquarters.  One could argue that the money spent on the arena did change the fortunes of the district and I believe the same would be true of a baseball stadium.  Adding that significant entertainment draw downtown would pay back the RDA’s investment.

          It is true that RDA money is spent elsewhere.  On North First St. Cadence just built new HQ buildings despite all the vacant buildings around.  There were definitely subsidies provided by RDA to entice them.  Those are appropriate uses of RDA funds, but are also definitely “corporate handouts.”  Why should the A’s not benefit some from our RDA dollars, just as Adobe, Cisco, Cadence, and hundreds of other companies have?  The purpose of RDA is to lure business to SJ.  Why is the A’s business not one to pursue?

  6. My, gone for just a day, and look what I’ve unleashed! A few responses: For the poster who referred to small-town USA and those who speak of the stadium as “free.” In my very big city home town, we answered those who believed in “free” anything: “I’ve got a bridge I can sell you.” Or “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” STOP this knee-jerk comment. Also, I did not stop eating McDonald’s after Fast Food Nation because I never ate at McDonald’s and neither did my kids.

    In any case, yes I have a couple of ideas for the land, one of which is a public use, the other an avant-garde, techno project that would necessarily be public-private because the city owns the land.But why should I tell you about it? If the city of San Jose would put the planning work force on alternatives and draw on our enrmous intellectual resources, money-generating projects would flow. These would proved jobs that actually pay higher salaries that selling hot dogs and beer, serious tax revenues, and a destination for the world’s innovators. By the way, how many salaries have gone into the baseball stadium? Or are those city workers “free” too?

    My point though, is simple. The baseball stadium is a throwback. Through this project, San Jose joins the slop bucket of obsolesence—like Detroit or Las Vegas. Now I repeat (and I hate to repeat): the stadium is not for San Jose; it is for the club owners, liquor industry, and sports media business.

    • Downtown girl,

      Did you really write “avant-garde techno project” with a straight face?  I can’t read it without laughing.  And what are you doing to make this happen?  Raising funds?  Presenting it to investors?

      Personally, I’d like the land to be used for an indoor ski resort/manned spaceship launch station, but since the only entity pledging $461M to develop it is Lew Wolff I figured I’d support that.

      Maybe you’re right about sports teams being for obsolete cities (Las Vegas has like six teams, don’t they?).  After all, the only people who go to Sharks games are club owners, liquor execs, and the sports media.  We should be working to kick hockey out of San Jose, not bring baseball in!

  7. Smack! I should have had a V-8. You’re right, SJ Resident. Avant-garde is wrong; cutting edge is better. Why are your ideas for this land about sports (indoor ski resort) or something ridiculous for a city (manned spaceship launch station)? Let’s get serious. It’s not your or my job to find the right project. That’s what we elect mayors, etc. for. If they consign us to the bottom of the development barrel, we need to tell them to go back to the drawing boards. They gotta do better!It may be too late for us though. Who knows what the fix is here?

    Las Vegas has six teams—have you checked out Las Vegas’ economy these days? Catastrophic. Obsolete. How are they going to get out this? It’s worse than Detroit. The car companies have come back because they actually make something. Teams make nothing.

    Don’t kick out hockey (a game I love). But one team is enough for any city. By the way, what do think will happen to ticket prices once the A’s move here? Check out Brian Tuohy; he has the increases documented. Believe me, you’ll be lucky to afford them, unless you’re one of those people who makes a bundle. Not many of us do.

  8. Scott Herhold got it right this morning: “The A’s owner is driving this train.” One of the reasons I love San Jose is that its corruption is so deliciously transparent. I lived in San Diego for a few years. That town had a strong identity, defined by its slogan, America’s Finest City. The GOP ran the town with the help of the Navy and the daily rag, distracting everyone with God, Guns, and Gays. But underneath, the town was like NY in Ghostbusters, with rivers of crap running like rivers. I landed around the time it hit the fan, thanks to some scrappy reporting by an online news site. The daily rag finally had to come out of its shell and pick up the story too. So SD ended up with a billion-dollar pension scandal, a deep budget hole, etc. By the time I left, the economy, built on “developer” economics, was in collapse.

    I bring this up because people here point to San Diego as a model (the Padres). Another joint that people in San Jose smoke. Like the people here who say the ballpark will be free; as I said, I’ve got a bridge I can sell you.

    And what’s that about geriatrics wanting to keep SJ in the 50s? Checked on Wolff’s age recently? No, it’s the ballpark fans who are in the 1950s, the way SD was for so long no one remembered it was in the 50s. Right now, SJ is placing its bet on a company (the A’s) that’s losing money, that’s in an industry rotted through with mismanagement, dope, sex scandals, etc. It’s something out of a Malamud short story—The Natural— but it’s real. So this will be the salvation of what Herhold calls San Jose’s beleaguered identity? Oh is that the same identity as “Capial of the Silicon Valley?”

    • DG, you lost all credibility the minute you gave the Sharks a free pass just because you like hockey.  Either sports teams are bad for cities or they’re good.  You can’t pick and choose because Marleau is dreamy.

      In fact, the deal the Sharks got for HP Pavilion was about as sweet as it gets.  Unlike the deal with the A’s, San Jose built HP Pavilion completely with tax dollars ($150M or so in the early 90’s).  Where’s your outrage about that?

      As for calling the relationship between Lew Wolffe and Chuck corruption, you have to show that our mayor is somehow being compensated for his support.  Whether he wants the A’s because he actually thinks they’re good for city or because he thinks it’s a popular move (or both), nothing points to corruption.

      P.S.  Las Vegas has zero teams.  Hyperbole.

    • So this is about you not liking baseball.  Baseball might have some problems in the current economy, but to suggest that the A’s or MLB are a doomed business is ludicrous.  Baseball is here to stay and almost all major cities in the US have major league teams.  The unfortunate reality is that every 40 years, stadiums need to be replaced in order to revitalize the fan base and provide the revenue to stay competitive.

      The A’s will get that new stadium.  If it isn’t in SJ, with no tax dollars spent on the facility, it will be somewhere else.  Cities like Las Vegas are waiting to throw tax dollars at the A’s, but Lew Wolff wants to remain in the area and come to SJ badly enough, that San Jose will get a great deal, one similar to the deal SF got that not only has the Giants competitive every year, but has reviatlized that party of the City up north.

  9. SJ Resident has it half right. I don’t know that Reed is on Wolffe’s payroll, although like all politicians, he’s on the take for something. But corruption isn’t just about money, it’s about the corrosion of governance. When corporations run government—drive the train—the system isn’t just broken, it’s gone. That’s true whether it’s Wolffe and his partner Jim Fisher (the Gap) or oil company executives and energy policy or Enron and California’s grid. We’ve been there over and over, and it ain’t good for democracy and for people. By the way, I’m not associated with any of the groups opposing the stadium, but I’m beginning to think it’s time to do that. If I do, it’ll be the group not associated with the Giants.

    Again, the focus is on what SJ is actually doing: putting a multi-million dollar bet on a loser, a loser that DOESN’T MAKE ANYTHING. Again, the stadium is not about San Jose. If I were a company looking at San Jose for relocation, the top criteria, besides the business benefits, are schools, schools, schools and then other urban amenities, including public safety, the arts, etc. On most of these SJ is drowning, while we use up psychic energy and resources to get a frigging BASEBALL STADIUM.

    • DG, tell everyone who works at HP Pavilion and all the businesses downtown that the Sharks don’t make anything.  Tell them the city should stop spending money on HP Pavilion because that land could be better used for a “cutting edge techno project.”

      Oh wait, you love the Sharks.  They’re entirely different.  Somehow…

  10. The Merky gave us more insight this morning—$5 million spent to convince Santa Clara voters to OK a stadium there. That’s probably more than all the contributions for schools, arts, youth sports leagues put together. That’s what I mean by corruption. San Jose will be worse, because the backers have more money. We’re so screwed up as a city, as a country, that we deserve what we’re getting; the rest of the world is outpacing us while we play. This reminds me of a Star Trek episode, in which the entire crew except for Data and Wes Crusher become addicted to a game that an enemy has planted in them through some gadgets they wear around their heads to their eyes. They can’t see reality, only the game. That’s us. Unfortunately, the episode is a fiction and it has a happy ending. We don’t have that luxury—just a #$% stadium. I don’t think I’ll join one of those groups opposing the stadium. Too much money backing it, too much grease. SJ Resident sounds like all political science majors. They learn nothing from history, so they can’t see far enough ahead.

      • You’re so literal. Liking hockey and opposing yet another sports industry faciity are not contradictions. Conditions in San Jose have changed in the past decade or so—or haven’t you noticed? Surival depends on being able to adapt to those shifts. We’re so top-heavy with special interests that we can’t bend, can’t make out where the path is. The backers of the baseball stadium want to hit a bullseye, but they can’t even find the target.

        • Happily attending a stadium that was completely funded by tax dollars and then opposing another because (under your logic) it’s a waste of money is a contradiction.  Things haven’t changed so much that you can say the circumstances for the Tank were different.  As I’ve already pointed out, the deal was in fact much worse since the team contributed zero dollars to the construction.

          Cutting through all the fluff you’ve posted here exposes your true issue: you just don’t like baseball.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Most people vote solely based on their own self-interest.  But please drop the “fighting for what’s best for the city” charade.

        • I love baseball, which is why I hate what’s happened to it because of club owners. I only go to minor league games when I go. Baseball isn’t about baseball any more. It’s about investors, liquor contracts, media hype, doping, hookers, yada yada. This is not good for San Jose. It’s good for owners and investors. The idea that the stadium will bring economic development is a joke. Some think that San Francisco thrives because of its teams. That town could lose its teams tomorrow and it would still be a great, busy, creative city—because that’s what it is and wants to be, not sucking on the tits (or butts) of club owners.

        • San Francisco as a whole is what it is because it’s dense and old (and I don’t mean that in a bad way).  China Basin is thriving because they built a baseball stadium there.

          Anyway, I think we’ve exhausted all avenues of conversation.  It’s been fun.

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