The one baffling thing about the folks who run the City of Santa Clara is that it didnt vote to loan the 49ers 850 billion. Or 850 trillion. Or the gross national product of the solar system.
I mean, if youre going to loan out that much money for something like a football stadium, why not just go for a cartoon figure and be done with it? Youre not going to see the one you already promised so why wouldnt you shoot the moon?
For the record, I have not, do not, and will never care where the 49ers play their games. Or for that matter, the Raiders, either. Santa Clara, Fremont, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Madrid. I dont live in San Francisco or Santa Clara, I have no dog in this fight, and I get paid mileage for going to football games and practices. I dont have to care, so you cant hit me with that one.
Moreover, I dont entirely blame the 49ers for spotting electoral marks and working them. Theyre no more rapacious than, say, Jeff Loria, who worked the City of Miami for about half a billion for a new ballpark.
Well, let me say that a different way. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Loria WAS actually more rapacious, so scratch that comparison.
In short, we have no unassailable proof that the York Family did anything other than say, We want you to give us a huge whopping loan, and got the seven members of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority to agree.
Of course, without a stadium, the Santa Clara Stadium Authority has no authority, so theres no kick in being a member of an authority of nothing. Thats the definition of a barfly.
But we digress.
History shows us again and again that publicly built arenas and stadiums do not make back the money for the city that lays it out. The Oakland Coliseum retool that lured the Raiders back from Los Angeles was such an idiotic deal that every politician who signed off on it fled in terror at its very mention six months after signing it.
Now maybe this will be the exception. Maybe the Yorks will find a way to make Santa Clara whole again before all of us are long and safely dead. But -- based on recent history -- thats not the way to bet. And the voters of Santa Clara should have known that, and the people who run Santa Clara should have known that even more.
But they chose not to learn that lesson. Or to be more precise, not enough of them chose to learn it, and now theyve turned over 850 million for a football stadium. This, kids, could end up badly.
Now for you 49er fans who arent that interested in Santa Clara or its financial structure, its a great deal. What do you care who gets squeezed?
Well, you will, when you find out that youre about to pay lots more for seeing your boys than ever before, because thats the way this works, too. You lose your prime seat location, even if its in an upholstered toilet like La Candeliere. You pay more for the seats. You pay more to park, or you walk a mile to your car. You break the 20 beer barrier.
And some of that money will go back to Santa Clara. Some of it. Not nearly enough, of course, but this is Santa Claras reward for convincing its optic nerve to overrule its appetite.
Yet every town gets to decide what it wants to do. If the citizens of Santa Clara are fine with this, then the argument is over. If the citizens think the politicians hosed them, they get to vote them out. If the politicians think they were swindled, they can wait for the SEC or IRS or come after the 49ers down the road.
And if everyones happy, then good on all their fathers. But the moneys still spent, and if the Raiders' deal with Oakland teaches us anything, there's no contractual protection that cant be broken, or ignored, down the road if a team wants to do something else with someone else.
Its the result of being mesmerized by the lure of being a big league city, as defined by the league. We do not hope this for the people of Santa Clara (the politicians, being invertebrates, are not our concern), but the tide of history suggests otherwise. Over and over and over again.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.