Atlantic Cities

The Great California Sports Shuffle

The Great California Sports Shuffle
Reuters

The San Francisco 49ers football team and the Oakland A’s baseball team are being aggressively lured from their Bay Area homes out to the Silicon Valley.

The cities of Santa Clara and San Jose are trying to uproot the teams, proposing new stadia and higher revenues. And though no moves have been made nor deals inked, it's looking likely that at least one and probably both of the teams will leave.

Santa Clara, about 40 miles south of San Francisco, has been trying to bring the 49ers to town for years. The city recently approved a plan to borrow $850 million to construct a brand new stadium for the team. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the loans will depend on a $150 million grant from the National Football League – league money that’s desired by a handful of other teams. If the NFL supports the plan, Santa Clara could break ground on the $1 billion, 75,000-seat stadium in 2012.

It would be a step up from the 49ers current home at Candlestick Park, originally constructed in 1960, and embarrassingly in the news recently when the stadium’s power cut out twice during a December 19 game. The team’s lease at the stadium expires in 2015, and city officials had hoped to have a new stadium built as part of a redevelopment project at nearby Hunter’s Point. But those plans seem less and less likely.

Across the bay in Oakland, the A’s baseball team is also being lured down to Silicon Valley. San Jose, the third most populous city in the state, is hoping to convince the A’s to leave their own ‘60s-era stadium. The city council recently agreed to give the team exclusive rights to purchase about five acres of land in downtown San Jose at a discounted rate of $6.9 million and to then build its own $500 million stadium. Two parcels in the proposed site have yet to be acquired, but the city is confident those deals will be made. According to the San Jose Mercury News, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed says the team could provide an economic boon for the city, including:

about $1.5 million in annual revenue to the city's general fund; $1.7 million to San Jose's struggling redevelopment agency and affordable housing; and a few million to Santa Clara County, the water district and schools. Reed also touted the almost 1,000 permanent jobs that would be created by a ballpark.

But Oakland isn’t giving up the A’s just yet. The city’s is still trying to convince the team to stick around.

The city is touting a pair of sites to build a ballpark for the A's on city-owned land -- one at Victory Court along the waterfront, and the other as part of a proposed Coliseum City that would include stadiums for the A's, football Raiders and basketball Warriors, along with a retail and entertainment development, and a convention center.

A coalition in San Jose has filed a lawsuit against the city for failing to complete an environmental review on the project, hoping to stop the move from taking place. The lawsuit is reportedly supported by neighboring Major League Baseball team the San Francisco Giants, which claim San Jose as part of their fan base. The A’s organization however is pushing forward, and sources say owner Lew Wolff is confident the move will happen. Ultimately the decision lies in the hands of the MLB. When team owners meet in mid-January, they’ll decide whether the A’s long-sought move can go through.

Though it seems that both teams could be packing their bags soon, nothing is final yet. San Francisco and Oakland still have time to counter-offer and make their own concessions to encourage the teams to stay put, but it might be too difficult to proffer more than what Santa Clara and San Jose already have on the table.

Photo credit: Robert Galbraith / Reuters

Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for The Atlantic Cities. He lives in Los Angeles. All posts »

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