It looks as though the San Francisco 49ers are going to get a new stadium in Santa Clara after voters in the city approved the project on Tuesday night. The new venue will cost Santa Clara taxpayers at least $444 million.
Now, the big question should be whether the Oakland Raiders will join the Niners at that site.
The Raiders are still seeking to build a new stadium in the city of Oakland, at their current site, despite the fact that Bay Area taxpayers would likely be asked to fork over a large chunk of the cash for that stadium, too.
Why, when the New York Giants and Jets have proven that sharing a stadium is hardly an inconvenience, do these people believe that it’s even remotely practical to build a separate stadium for the Raiders?
The borderline comedic arrogance that wafts from the Raider organization has apparently spread to city council. You have to love the rhetoric from Oakland Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente, who serves as vice chairman of the Coliseum Authority’s board:
“I’m still confident the Coliseum site is a better site than any other place,” De La Fuente told the San Jose Mercury News. “There’s no way Santa Clara or San Francisco can build the infrastructure that’s already in place at the Coliseum.”
At the risk of sounding like Helen Lovejoy, I have to throw it out there: How dare politicians ask the public to help fund two billion-dollar stadiums located in the same general area? Think of all the other, more pressing needs that can be served with that money.
The 49ers and Raiders play a half-hour drive across the Bay Bridge from each other — 10 miles as the bird flies. Santa Clara is less than 40 miles south of Oakland. What’s the point in building two separate stadiums such a short distance apart? These venues will go unused for the vast majority of the year.
We’re talking about 20-26 games a year, between August and January. That’s it.
The people of Oakland shouldn’t stand for this. They should look at their city — one of the most crime-ridden municipalities in the United States — and protest the possibility of spending even a penny on a new stadium of their own.
But they won’t, because like the people in many sports-obsessed cities in North America, their priorities are out of line — just as they were when they agreed to empty their pockets to help remodel the Oakland Coliseum in 1995, something Sports Illustrated recently called “one of the worst deals in the history of stadiums.”
They’ll spend whatever it takes to maintain “the infrastructure that’s already in place at the Coliseum.”
Whatever the hell that means.