Given that, if the Oakland A's move to Fremont, which is suffering a fiscal crisis that is diminishing police and fire services, how could the city afford the necessary extra police deployment for 81 home games each season? In addition, who would pay for road improvements and infrastructure costs related to a 35,000-seat ballpark's construction and its annual maintenance and security?
"The city of Fremont cannot pay out of pocket for those services, therefore we would have to be financially compensated in the negotiations," City Manager Fred Diaz said. "And Mr. (Lewis) Wolff is sensitive to that." At this preliminary stage, Diaz added that he doesn't know what those infrastructure costs would total.
Despite slashing its budget by more than $25 million and cutting more than 220 staff jobs in recent years, Fremont next year may have to dip into its reserve for the first time, according to the city's proposed 2006-07 budget report.
Officials blame Fremont's weakened financial condition for its decrease in police and fire services, resulting in higher crime rates and slower emergency response times. The city's roads also are deteriorating, city officials say, and the situation stands to get worse if buses are used on Fremont streets to shuttle fans between a stadium and BART.
"If there were a significant amount of bus traffic on roads not designed for that, that could be an issue. But we don't know that for sure," City Engineer Norm Hughes said. "I'm sure it's one of the things we'll look at as soon as a study is done."
San Francisco city officials and Staci Slaughter, the Giants' spokeswoman, didnot return phone calls for this story. However, the Police Department's overtime tab alone cost about $250,000 for officers deployed to the ballpark in 2005, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The Giants pay for interior police costs, and the city pays for traffic and security outside the ballpark, a police spokeswoman told The Argus.
Still, if Fremont couldn't afford similar costs, how much would the A's be willing to pay to bridge the difference? City and A's officials both say it is way too early in the process to tackle these key details.
"There isn't a proposal before us yet, and any proposal would have a full environmental review," Hughes said.
"Infrastructure costs fall under (the category of) financing for a stadium, which I don't think we're prepared to comment on," A's spokesman Jim Young said.
More than two months after A's co-owner Lew Wolff announced that he was serious about possibly moving the team to Fremont, continuing talks with Cisco about the 143-parcel near Pacific Commons have yet to yield an agreement.
"Negotiations are ongoing, and talks will continue in every aspect of the proposal," Young said.
If and when a land deal is cut, the team would have to file a development application with Fremont and then an environmental impact report would be issued for the Pacific Commons site, a process that often takes several months.
Meanwhile, a proposed utilities users tax may be placed on the November ballot to help shore up police, fire and street maintenance services, which Diaz recently described as "anemic." The revenue generated by the proposed tax measure is not connected to a proposed Fremont ballpark, Diaz said.
Instead, the tax would be a sorely needed stopgap solution to current problems, such as the need to restore essential services to a basic and adequate level, city officials say. In addition, the tax measure would have a sunset clause of five to 10 years, to define for voters its expiration date.
And officials say they have made it clear to the A's that the city is unable to pay for extra traffic and security needs that a new Fremont stadium would create.
"Our police and fire departments are stretched beyond thin right now, and our services have been dysfunctional at best for years," Diaz said. "All of (those services) will have to be paid for by the stadium deal that's the baseball village part of it."
Staff writer Chris De Benedetti can be reached at email@example.com.