Buoyed by local voters' overwhelming endorsement of a San Francisco 49ers stadium last week, supporters of a proposed baseball park in San Jose are optimistic about their plan's prospects — but focused on a critical next few months.
With city officials facing an Aug. 3 deadline to put a stadium question on the November ballot, Mayor Chuck Reed and Oakland A's co-owner Lew Wolff say the Niners' victory in Santa Clara proves the time is right for a similar measure in San Jose. But they and everyone else are waiting — and waiting — for a decision from Major League Baseball on whether the A's can relocate.
Other hurdles loom, including the possibility that ballpark opponents will sue if the City Council this summer votes to place a measure on the ballot.
Still, Reed was heartened that nearly 60 percent of Santa Clara voters approved a $937 million stadium to bring the NFL to Silicon Valley.
"Their transaction was a lot more expensive and a lot more complicated than what we're looking at," Reed said.
"It bodes very well, because they had a terrific victory," Wolff added. "If they had lost, which I did not expect them to, I would have attributed that to not wanting to put in the public money."
The 49ers' measure included a $114 million public contribution. By contrast, a proposed A's ballpark would cost about $461 million, all of it paid for by the A's.
San Jose taxpayers would, however, be on the hook
Those costs are a key reason Stand for San Jose, a group backed by the San Francisco Giants and their minor league affiliate in San Jose, argue a ballpark would drain dollars from city services such as parks and libraries.
The Giants hold baseball's territorial rights to the South Bay and have insisted they will not relinquish them. Stand for San Jose filed one of three formal objections to the environmental impact report city officials prepared for the A's stadium, arguing — as did the San Jose Sharks and a resident near the site — that it grossly underestimated the proposed ballpark's impact on traffic and parking.
City officials since have come to an agreement with the Sharks, and it's widely expected the council on Tuesday will certify the report over the remaining objections.
Should Stand for San Jose sue, as many observers predict, it could gum up the process. Todd W. Smith, the group's attorney, would say only that its members are considering litigation as one of several options.
Reed, for now, is staying focused on the Nov. 2 ballot, when he hopes the city can put a ballpark measure before voters; their approval is needed before the city can provide land for the project.
To meet that timeline, the council must vote on the matter no later than Aug. 3. But even though the City Council does not meet during July, Reed said he could issue a memo to put a stadium measure on the council agenda as late as July 23.
It's been more than a year since baseball Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a committee to study the A's options. It would take a vote of three-quarters of baseball's owners to terminate the Giants' territorial rights.
Contact Tracy Seipel at 408-275-0140.