Oakland Tribune Poll
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Tuesday, July 16, 2002 - 3:11:38 AM MST
Poll: No tax funds for ballpark
City manager discounts 60% rejection by residents
By Paul T. Rosynsky,STAFF WRITER
OAKLAND -- A majority of Alameda County residents do not want taxpayer funds spent on a new Oakland A's ballpark that would be part of a downtown housing and entertainment project, a poll commissioned by The Oakland Tribune found.
According to the poll, 38.2 percent of 500 county residents surveyed said they would support spending public funds for a ballpark if it was part of a downtown redevelopment venture and 60.7 percent said no.
Of the 191 people in favor, 36.7 percent said they think taxpayers should pay up to half of the estimated $385 million ballpark price tag if the A's or other sources pick up the other half, and 60.7 percent said they believe the public should put up a quarter of the amount.
Among those who said they don't want any public funds to pay for the ballpark, 86.7 percent indicated that's true whether the baseball-only stadium was built in Oakland or another part of the county.
The remaining 13.3 percent answered that they might support a ballpark elsewhere in the county.
"The location is not the issue, it is the fact that they do not want to spend taxpayer money for the stadium," said Margaret Lin, a statistician with the marketing department for ANG Newspapers, The Oakland Tribune's parent company.
Both opponents and supporters of a new stadium project said the results were not startling, and show that the Oakland Athletics need to make a proposal before the idea can move forward,
"There is nothing at all surprising in this poll, and I would definitely not use it as some indication that we should not move forward," said Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb. "It means that
sometimes you have to go on your own."
Bobb has spent the last year working up a plan for building a ballpark in the "uptown" section of downtown Oakland.
The plan calls for renovation of the Fox Theater, development of housing, a hotel and other entertainment venues such as a movie theater, and construction of a ballpark on 12 acres bordered by Telegraph and San Pablo avenues between 20th and 18th streets.
But Bobb's plans have been significantly hampered by a proposed housing development at the same location backed by Mayor Jerry Brown and Council President Ignacio De La Fuente (San Antonio-Fruitvale). That project could entail pitching in about $41 million in public subsidies.
Brown and De La Fuente have stymied discussions concerning the ballpark, issuing gag orders to prevent staff members from discussing the idea with council members, the public or the Oakland A's.
Brown said Monday the poll proves that his "concrete" plan to build housing at the site is better public policy than chasing an "uncertain" ballpark idea.
"I think it shows you that to earn the requisite degree of public support is very difficult, and therefore to have the uncertainty of the stadium kill the high probability of housing is not sound public policy," Brown said. "The housing is feasible, we can do it with existing funds. The ballpark requires voters' support, and this poll seems to indicate there is an issue there."
But supporters said the ballpark idea should not be killed before firm details are hashed out, particularly after A's co-owner Steve Schott finally said, last week, that the team is willing to invest its own cash into a stadium project.
"Opponents will use everything at their disposal to defeat any initiative that they are opposed to, that is the art of politics," Bobb said. "We already know the only way it works is if it is a public-private venture."
How much that partnership relies on public funds and where that money comes from, however, will be the determining factor in the construction of a new stadium in the city, the poll and representatives of both sides said.
If the public is stuck with the entire tab, for example, only 2.6 percent of the residents surveyed said they would support a new ballpark. Supporters increased to 36.7 with a 50-50 split and 60.7 percent with a 25-75 split, the poll found.
The poll was conducted between June 27 and July 10 by Markinetics Inc. of Marietta, Ohio and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent. It was based on a random sample of residential telephone numbers throughout Alameda County.
"It all depends on how it is presented," said Councilman Dick Spees (Montclair-Laurel), a ballpark supporter. "If a precise financial plan is done, you will get a different answer."
In fact, a poll commissioned by the city last May found that 45 percent of Oakland voters would support spending $180 million in "revenue and tax increment bonds" for a new stadium if it included renovations of the Fox Theater and creation of an entertainment district.
But 71 percent of the Oakland voters in the poll said they "somewhat agreed" or "strongly agreed" with the statement that "public money" should not be used to build a stadium.
De La Fuente said the poll only proves the A's have to come to the city with a proposal.
"It is difficult to say yes, no or maybe, because the main movers and shakers have not made a move yet," he said. "Unless you have Schott himself or somebody else there driving this thing . . . it will be very hard."
Mike Crowley, president of the Oakland A's, said the poll proves nothing because nobody knows how much public or private money will be used in a stadium project.
"We're going to take a look at it, but until both sides have a chance to look at a financing plan, it is kind of premature," he said. "I am not discouraged by it. I understand it is going to be a challenge for all parties."
| By bubba69 on Tuesday, July 16, 2002 - 09:43 am:|
This poll really means squadt! I have said all along that not all Alameda County will be in favor of putting up tax money for this. I would like to see the demographics of the polled people.
If they (ANG) asked just Oakland residents that would be one thing but if the went to south and east county it would be a different story. Going to many events here with my local politico's I know most in the Tri Valley feel...Not their tax money!
I do not support that way opf thinking but can
understand it. The A's need to step up!
| By oaktownfan on Tuesday, July 16, 2002 - 12:56 pm:|
Brown is an idiot. How he became mayor here, I have no idea. Thank god I didn't vote for him either time because I would be utterly disgusted that I voted for a person who has no vision for rebuilding downtown or the way he has acted in blocking discussion with city officials and the A's.
The uptown site is the only site that will get any kind of support. Schott and Haggerty can dream of a park on the waterfront or in Fremont but only if they build it privately without any public funds whether they're bonds or a tax increase which is highly unlikely.
If the A's don't get a new park, it's almost a certain that there won't be baseball played in the East Bay after the lease deal expires. What will be left here in a sport sense is a football team that has sued the city time after time with an owner who can't make up his mind on where he wants his team to play and a basketball team that doesn't even recognize themself as an Oakland team yet their practice facility and the arena they play in is in the city. Brown has no idea what a sport franchises means to a city and his actions since he became mayor shows he doesn't give a damn if any of the teams left.
As for the poll, it doesn't suprise me. An issue like this will have different polls leaning both ways. What I would like to see is a poll of residents of Oakland asking them if the idea of building cheap housing units in that part of the city is a good idea. Would they think a few condos built at the uptown site would revitalize downtown in anyway, I don't think so and so do many residents who I've talked to. They think it'll become a desolate place to live in because there's nothing to do in that area of the city. If there were to be a poll, it would have a negative reaction and it would shut Brown's mouth once and for all saying that his housing idea is so much better than a entertainment/housing/park plan.
A's ownership needs to stop the cat and mouse game they're playing with the city. The lease deal is done so they have no more excuses because the city has extended the olive branch. They need to finally show much they would commit financially in helping build a park in downtown Oakland now.