SJ council debates possible A's move

April 7, 2009 7:12:12 PM PDT
One of these days, the Oakland Athletics may be playing their home games in San Jose. It's just one of the latest skirmishes in the South Bay turf battle with the San Francisco Giants.

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Santa Clara County supervisors have some harsh words for the Giants, calling its citizens indentured servants to the organization as long as the team has territorial rights in the South Bay. On Tuesday supervisors approved a letter to Major League Baseball asking the rights issue be reexamined.

"The largest market in this region needs to be freed up so we can support one of their franchises," said Supervisor Dave Cortese.

Namely, San Jose wants to play ball with the A's. Team owner Lew Wolff has already expressed an interest in building a stadium on 14 acres near downtown. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed says taxpayers would not fund the deal.

"He's going to have to figure out a way to finance it. I believe that he has done that," said Mayor Reed. "We're not going to put taxpayer dollars in there to build a stadium."

California State University East Bay economics professor Stephen Shmanske, Ph.D., says citizens should also question the huge economic benefits touted by stadium supporters. The author argues sports venues do not generate new revenue streams.

"If I'm spending money at the stadium for my leisure time activity, that means I'm not going to a play or museum or whatever," said Shmanske.

City leaders, however, think the A's would attract new dollars from fans outside the area. Tuesday night marks the first public meeting on the A's to San Jose debate.

"I think the most important thing that people have to understand is that this is an open and transparent process," said council member Nora Campos.

If Major League Baseball clears the way for an A's move, expect money to be the next big debate.

"If taxpayer money is used in this we'll do all we can to defeat it at the ballot box," said Ross Signorino, a tax opponent.

San Jose says it can only take this process one inning at a time.

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