After months of sharp rhetoric against the proposed Oakland A's move to San Jose, backers of the San Francisco Giants have started swinging.
Today, a group of San Jose Giants fans — with support from the minor league team and, perhaps, its big league partner — will unveil a coalition called Stand For San Jose to oppose public funds or subsidies that would bring the A's to a new downtown ballpark.
The group plans a public relations campaign to argue the stadium would divert scant city resources from schools, police and fire services — something San Jose officials say is untrue.
Lawyers for the group members also plan to file a letter with the city today challenging a revised environmental impact report for the stadium.
At a meeting Monday night at Municipal Stadium, San Jose Giants president and Chief Executive Jim Weyermann met with a handful of neighborhood residents to discuss strategy.
The team is partly owned by the San Francisco Giants, who took a 25 percent stake earlier this year in what was widely seen as an effort to strengthen their claim to the South Bay.
The Giants own Major League Baseball's territorial rights to the area and say the A's move to San Jose would steal a significant chunk of their revenues.
Weyermann declined to say what role the San Francisco Giants are playing in the campaign, referring questions to the club. Officials there did not immediately return calls for comment.
Asked who is paying for the law firm and the San Francisco public relations agency that's assisting the fledgling group, Weyermann would only say the San Jose Giants were not footing the bill.
Most of the group's 60 members live in Santa Clara County, Weyermann said.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said the group is "certainly welcome" to challenge the supplemental environmental impact report, which is slated to be discussed at a public "scoping meeting" this evening at City Hall.
The meeting will let residents and public agencies offer feedback about the report, which is expected to be finished early next year. San Jose Giants officials and members of the new group say the document — initially prepared in 2006, before current talks with the A's began — doesn't take full account of traffic impacts and other issues.
But Reed said the group's efforts appear to be misguided.
"They probably ought to take a look at the economic impact analysis we did that shows the project will generate money for the city's general fund and redevelopment agency," he said.
That analysis, prepared by a city-hired consulting firm in September, said the development of a 32,000-seat downtown ballpark would lead to $130 million in annual spending throughout the local economy — and $2.9 billion over a 30-year period.
The report established a set of negotiating principles that insists the A's— and not taxpayers — would be responsible for financing and building the stadium and financing all stadium operating costs.
But experts say the analysis doesn't mention the cost of the land needed for a ballpark, nor the cost of infrastructure — upgrading the adjacent intersections around the site, for example.
Reed said he believes the vast majority of people in San Jose would see an A's stadium "as a big plus for the city."
A June poll of 400 Santa Clara County voters by Oregon pollster Rick Lindholm showed that 45 percent would approve of the A's moving to San Jose, with 39 percent disapproving.
A more recent poll by Lindholm in October showed a closer vote of city residents: 45 percent who would approve of the move, compared with 44 percent who would not. Support countywide was 45 to 37 percent, Lindholm said.
Lindholm told the Mercury News on Tuesday that he had conducted the polls for free and that no one had hired him to do them.
Reed said he was aware of another poll, commissioned earlier this year by the booster group Pro Baseball for San Jose, that showed substantial support for the A's move. But that group did not publicly release the results of its poll, said Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, a member of the group.
Earlier this year, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a commission to study the A's stadium options. That committee has met with San Jose officials at least once, but members will not comment on their work or say when they expect it to be finished.
Oakland officials are fighting to keep the team, but A's owner Lew Wolff — a college fraternity brother of Selig's — wants to move the team to San Jose, saying it has exhausted its options in Oakland.
It would take a vote of three-quarters of baseball's owners to terminate the Giants' territorial rights and let the A's move to San Jose.
Weyermann said the new coalition is not anti-baseball. "The question is," he said, "is this the time that public money ought to go to subsidize this particular project at a time when we are closing libraries, schools, and public safety issues are not being addressed?"
Weyermann added that county residents don't want to see the San Jose Giants disappear, as team officials have pledged will happen if the A's relocate.
In 2009, the San Jose Giants set all-time attendance and revenue records, drawing more than 200,000 fans for the first time.
Contact Tracy Seipel at 408 275-0140.
The "scoping meeting" to discuss the ballpark environmental impact report will be held at 6:30 p.m. in rooms W-118 and W-119 of the "wing" building at San Jose City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St.