For years, the Oakland A’s have touted the privately financed ballpark they plan to build to keep the club in the Bay Area.
Led by team President Dave Kaval, who previously brought San Jose the Earthquakes’ soccer stadium, the A’s are now pressing Oakland to sign off on a massive public subsidy of a billion-dollar professional baseball team.
We’ve seen this play before, as franchises in the Bay Area and elsewhere promote the false rationale that pro sports boost local economies. Falling for that claim can be costly: Taxpayers are still paying for stadium improvements that temporarily brought the Raiders back to Oakland in 1995.
The A’s proposal, released last week, is particularly egregious. Kaval proposes building the ballpark, 3,000 residential units, a hotel, an indoor performance center and about 1.8 million square feet of commercial and retail space along the Oakland waterfront near Jack London Square. This would be a development deal that includes a ballpark, not the other way around.
Kaval promises the team would provide $450 million of community benefits. But taxpayers, not the A’s, would foot the bill for those benefits — and the value is minimal because the amount is stretched over 45 years with no adjustment for the lost value due to inflation.
The team also wants the city to create a massive tax district affecting property owners along a 1½-mile-long swath of land to help fund the city services and infrastructure that would be needed to serve the A’s project.