The City of Santa Clara is facing a conundrum. It has long been planning to build a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers right next to the Great American amusement park. At least some of the funding for the $937 million stadium—$40 million of it—was supposed to come from the local Redevelopment Agency, but now the Governor wants to take that money, using it to cover the deficit this year and channeling it to schools and local governments in the coming years. At their meeting on Tuesday, City Councilmembers plan to send a sharp message to Governor Brown: “Hands off our stadium money.”
The problem, say city leaders, is that without the RDA money, they have no other way of funding the stadium. Though voters approved the stadium in June, they did so under the condition that no funding for it would come from the city’s general fund.
But not everyone agrees with City Council. Santa Clarans Play Fair, a group opposed to the stadium’s construction, believes that the money would be better spent on the county and schools. Then there is the state’s deficit, most recently estimated at $26.6 billion. Meanwhile, other cities throughout California, including San Jose and Santa Cruz, have already taken steps to secure their RDA money and protect it from the state.
Of course, there is a problem with the NFL itself. Its owners are threatening to lock out players next month if players do not agree to give up $1 billion to them up front. According to the terms of the $9.3 billion business, owners of franchises now get the first $1 billion earned, with 60 percent of every additional billion going to the players. The owners want to get the first $2 billion instead. Critics of the NFL point out that the league already receives hundreds of millions of tax dollars in the form of subsidies and tax breaks from local governments.
So football could start next year’s season with a strike, while Santa Clara figures out how to shift the subsidy for its new stadium on to the tax payer, since the Governor wants to use existing funding to pay off the deficit and improve schools. It’s a problem with no easy solution.