Wednesday, October 12, 2011

49ers' Stadium Subsidies: Sorry, they're not for you, Mark.

Dear Santa Clarans,

Gosh, will he or won't he?  Check out the pop press for the latest speculation on why Jed York will/won't agree to take on Mark Davis and the Oakland Raiders as his tenant.

That's the way the question should be phrased, because Jed York has far more power over the Raiders - and over Santa Clara - than any of us have over him.

The rule that never changes is a very straightforward one:  It's about the money, and it's never about the football. 

More than a few heirs of millionaire NFL team owners have learned that the hard way, as they've inherited fat assets with bare-bones cash accounts.  The children of Georgia Frontiere (St. Louis Rams) and Jack Kent Cooke (Washington Redskins) know exactly how this works.  They ended up selling controlling interests in their teams so that they could pay off inheritance tax bills for tens of millions of dollars that were due in mere months after the passing of the majority owner.

A Santa Clara stadium, with Jed York as his landlord, doesn't really solve that problem for Mark Davis.

Also, the subsidy that Santa Clarans are going into debt to pay?  It's up to at least $500,000,000 and will likely end up being much more than that.  Other than giving the Raiders a place to play, the subsidy - as well as that sublease - benefit the 49ers far more than it will ever benefit the Raiders.  Or us.

Note also that the 49ers will be making sure that any stadium they're in will be geared to market their brand - not Raiders jerseys.  The sale of NFL gear is big business, and all of the profits from those bobble-headed dolls go into the pockets of the 49ers (and not to a single Santa Clara agency).  It doesn't pay Jed York to have any brand-dilution going on in a stadium he controls.

Silly fan emotionalism doesn't mean a thing in any discussion of the Raiders' future (It certainly doesn't in any discussion of our futures).  When millionaire NFL team owners do that thing that they do, it may be an accidental sop to one fan constituency or another - but that is never the priority for the millionaire NFL team owners who are really calling the shots.

It's about the money.  Always is.

Thank you for all of your support,
Bill Bailey, Treasurer,
Santa Clara Plays


Sunday, October 9, 2011

49ers' Stadium Subsidies: A Cult of Secrecy

Dear Santa Clarans,

This writer asked at the July 5 meeting of the City Council and Agencies that any dollar amounts taken in by the Santa Clara Stadium Authority in the sale of stadium Personal Seat Licenses, or PSLs, be public information.  Santa Clarans in Chambers that evening, plus television viewers on Channel 15, were told by City Staff that this is confidential information - even though those PSLs are being sold by a Santa Clara City Agency and not by the 49ers.

Some months ago, I asked in Chambers that the dollar amounts actually committed to in any Letters of Intent for the parking overlay on private lots be disclosed publicly.  Santa Clarans were denied that information also. But what was most disturbing on that occasion was that we were refused not by our own City Staff, but by Lisa Lang, VP of Communications for the San Francisco 49ers - who had no business even speaking for the Stadium Authority.

A few weeks ago, CalAware petitioned City Hall for the release of the public safety report for gameday security in a billion-dollar-stadium paid for mostly by us.

And they were refused.

(A correction  --- Neither CalAware nor the First Amendment Coalition were refused this report because they were not the ones who requested it.  But you can still follow the trail in the link above to find out just who that shy party was.  We might even find out why the source of the original request is mentioned virtually only in the last sentence.  Thanks to several members of Santa Clara Plays Fair for pointing this out.  -- BB, 10/11/2011)

This is a big deal.  After the shootings, beating and parking lot brawl at Candlestick Park on August 20th and September 18th, we as residents are absolutely entitled to know that, of 160 police officers handling a massive traffic jam of over 20,000 vehicles, some portion of them will be protecting members of the public, and in particular residents on the north side of our city.

The refusal of the Stadium Authority even to tell us how they're going to protect us during NFL events at a stadium we're paying for simply isn't acceptable.  The 49ers - and the NFL - have no business telling us what we can and cannot see.

The use of the Closed Sessions of our Council and our Agencies to conceal this as well as the true costs of the stadium subsidies from us is simply another nail in the coffin of open government.  We have a culture of secrecy that's rapidly becoming a cult.

Surely, the All-American City deserves much better. Will you please speak out?  Contact the Council directly .

Demand more.

Thanks for all of your support,

Bill Bailey, Treasurer