Better Sense San Jose

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Downtown baseball stadium is a bad idea for San Jose

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We can't afford it.

The San Jose budget is in crisis, with a $116 million deficit this year, and no immediate relief in coming years. Deep and painful cuts to community services are coming:

  • cuts to police and fire department services (including removing crossing guards at many intersections);
  • cuts to road maintenance;
  • cuts to parks and recreation, including pool closings;
  • closing libraries, cutting library hours;
  • closing community centers;

The city is considering sales tax increases, and has asked city employees to take 10% cuts in salary and benefits. The Redevelopment Agency budget and staff are likely to be decimated.

Yet the city seems eager to spend money to buy and prepare land and road infrastructure for a baseball stadium, and then effectively give it away to wealthy team owners and forgo the property tax revenue.

This makes no sense. Baseball doesn't need our money; we do.

Stadium is poor economic deal for San Jose (full article)

Claims that a stadium will bring economic benefits to San Jose - jobs, tax revenue, and new spending - exaggerate the benefits and ignore the costs. The truth is the baseball stadium is not free for San Jose, and it is a very poor investment.

  • land purchases and infrastructure improvements for a stadium will cost San Jose an estimated $100M in present value initially, plus a loss of roughly $1M a year from foregone property taxes.
  • the net ROI (Return on Investment) for San Jose is 2% or less, while the Redevelopment Agency bonds supplying the capital cost 5% or more per year. A bad deal.
  • a stadium will create just 138 new, seasonal, mostly low wage jobs at stadium; with $100M in public costs for the stadium, the cost for the 138  new stadium jobs is almost $725,000 per job. That's a terrible value.
  • a stadium will not by itself create new businesses, and will not increase property values (according to San Jose Neighborhood Economic Impacts of the Proposed San Jose Stadium.

Baseball is emphatically a minor league economic player, with good publicity.

Stadium is poor use of Diridon Station land.

Giving the Diridon site away to private developers for a baseball stadium is a short sighted and old fashioned idea that hurts San Jose's future.

The site, immediately next to the emerging major transportation hub at Diridon station, is unique. It is potentially one of the most valuable and attractive sites in the city for businesses and residents. Recent market forecasts (see here - slides 20, 21) predict a demand for up to 3.6 million square feet of new office space and 4,500 new residential units in the Diridon Station Area. Office space is the land use that benefits the greatest from improved transit access, and high density development generates the greatest tax increment revenue. Office development at the Diridon site would create four times more economic benefit for San Jose than a baseball stadium, generate twice as much tax revenue, and create thousands more (and better) jobs. Over its 40 to 50 year lifetime, a stadium would represent a loss of billions of dollars of taxes and economic activity, and a loss of thousands of jobs.

In addition, a stadium would stunt San Jose's urban development. The Diridon location should and can become symbolic of San Jose's status as a 21st Century city. It should and can become San Jose's front door and drawing room - a lively everyday center of urban life. It is people living and working in a neighborhood that give it life throughout the day and year. Most of the time stadiums are empty and lifeless, creating a large dead zone around them.

Major Impacts on Neighborhoods, Downtown, and Freeways (full article)

The proposed stadium site is very close to established neighborhoods and to vital downtown facilities. No stadium in North America is located in such tight proximity to other critical uses. Even the Sharks are worried about the problems this will create.

  • Gridlock from 5 to 7 PM on almost all freeways around and through downtown - SR87, 280, 680, 880. Traffic levels will go to unacceptable levels, creating a necklace of gridlock for commuters on their way home and for anyone heading downtown.
  • Parking shortages throughout the downtown area, disrupting downtown residents and existing downtown businesses and theaters.
  • Permit parking will become required for many neighborhoods within a mile of downtown.
  • Surrounding neighborhoods will face increased noise, on top of the already heavy noise from the airport, trains, and traffic.
  • Traffic problems, cut through traffic, and traffic controls will increase in neighborhoods.

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Better Sense San Jose is a community based all volunteer organization founded to promote open and transparent government, and sensible, prioritized spending in the City of San Jose.

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"The evidence suggests that even an MLB stadium, with 81 home games a year, cannot exclusively sustain local businesses of any significant scale."
Neighborhood Economic Impacts of the Proposed San Jose Stadium
November 2006; prepared for San Jose Redevelopment Agency

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