Tuesday, September 20, 2011

49ers' Stadium Subsidies: Selling out Great America does not help Santa Clara

Dear Santa Clarans,

We can quickly put the sale of the Great America theme park to JMA Ventures in perspective.

The San Francisco 49ers are pulling the strings, of course, and they've solved their legal problems with Cedar Fair with a $70 million grease job.  But based on our city's treatment of Cedar Fair these last several years, I'm not surprised if CF is glad to be out from under the Great America theme park.

The upshot is this:  None of what happened today makes the 49ers stadium subsidies a better deal, or even a good deal, for Santa Clarans.  We're still down for what will probably be well over HALF A BILLION DOLLARS in corporate welfare for the 49ers.  We'll still be getting peanuts in return.

There are some other points to bear in mind.  The theme park still pays our city's General Fund of $5.3 million, minimum, every year.  Over the life of the proposed "give-away-the-store" stadium lease, the theme park will pay us TEN TIMES as much as the San Francisco 49ers ever will!  Whatever JMA - and the 49ers - are planning, we as residents should insist that the current lease continue to pay off at its current level.  Any renegotiated lease should be as good or better for our city - and NO development rights should be surrendered to JMA or to the 49ers.

However, based on the sweetheart deals that the Stadium Boosters on our City Council have already struck with the 49ers, both for the Training Center and for the stadium, any reasonable resident should be deeply suspicious of where the sellout of the Great America theme park is really going to take us.

Note also that the theme park lease requires that a recognized amusements firm be the actual operator of the park.  JMA and/or the San Francisco 49ers most certainly do not qualify.  They better have a plan for theme park operation by a third party, paid for by either or both of them and not by us.

In fact, in view of the beating and shootings at Candlestick Park on August 20th - and in view of the brawl in Candlestick's parking lot Monday Sunday evening - we should be drilling the 49ers hard on this one point alone.

After that:  There will be the care, upkeep and improvement of the theme park so that it continues to be a credit to our city's Entertainment District rather than a gamepiece for the 49ers.  Let's face it:  The 49ers aren't going to pay football dollars to keep up a theme park with returns far less than an NFL team - so look for the whining, givebacks and bad deals to begin shortly after the press buzz on today's sellout wears off.

JMA Ventures and the San Francisco 49ers really do owe Santa Clarans some solid answers.  The 49ers and their "stadium boosters" have spent close to three years whining that Cedar Fair stood in the way of "their" stadium, so it's going to be very interesting to see how this crowd rationalizes the 49ers' treatment of that same theme park.

If they and JMA let Great America degenerate to the condition that Candlestick Park is in today, we Santa Clarans are going to find ourselves in a lot of trouble.

Thanks for all of your support,
Bill Bailey, Treasurer,