The following piece was contributed by Neil deMause. For more, visit FieldOfSchemes.com
The first major polls are out in the runup to the June 8 vote in Santa Clara on a San Francisco 49ers stadium, and so far, the ayes have it: The stadium referendum leads 52 percent to 36 percent, with 11 percent undecided. (Or as San Jose Mercury News reporter Howard Mintz puts it, the Niners have “a substantial fourth-quarter political lead” – journalists just can’t resist a cheap sports metaphor.)
Likely voters are less inclined to support the plan than occasional voters, however, and 63 percent of respondents said they are at least “somewhat worried” about the cost to taxpayers. Roughly equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans support the stadium proposal, if you care about such things.
Stadium opponents note that neither the ballot question (which is apparently what was read by pollsters) nor 49ers campaign materials mention the public costs of the project; Santa Clara Plays Fair activist Chris Koltermann told KGO-TV: “I went through all the 49er campaign materials and came up with a list of 15 fictional statements including ‘no impact on general fund.’ That’s not true and ‘no costs to residents,’ that’s not true.”
Meanwhile, Cedar Fair, owners of the Great America amusement park that would lose a parking lot to the 49ers stadium, added to its lawsuit against the project a new demand that the city eliminate its $5.3 million guaranteed rent if a stadium is built:
“We believe it is essential that any proposed resolution include a realignment of the economic interests of the city and Cedar Fair,” Geoffrey Etnire, an attorney for the company, wrote in a letter to City Manager Jennifer Sparacino. “The city must be prepared to accept some of the risk that the revenues and profitability of Great America will be reduced.”
Reading between the lines, it sounds like Cedar Fair would accept a rent that fluctuated with its revenues. That could still represent a multi-million-dollar hit to the Santa Clara city budget, though.
As for what Cedar Fair will do if its pleas for a rent break are ignored, that’s unclear. Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan, asked on Friday whether she’d consider lowering the amusement park’s rent, replied: “No. We have a contract. A contract is a contract.”