Experts: the City of San Jose is delusional when it comes to the A's

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At least as far as the numbers go:

A recent analysis commissioned by the city — part of San Jose’s renewed quest to land the A’s — offers a rosy picture of the financial benefits such a stadium would bring.

But experts who study the economics of ballparks reviewed the numbers for the Mercury News and raised plenty of concerns. Chief among them: The cost for the city land the ballpark would be built upon is significant, they said. With three more parcels to buy, acquiring the land for the stadium over the years could amount to at least $42 million, according to a Mercury News analysis.

“You can’t come out saying that this doesn’t have a cost if all we’re supplying them (the A’s) is the land,” said Victor Matheson, associate professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. “The land is very valuable real estate.”

This is the central problem with any stadium plan, even the ones where the public outlay is intended to be minimal. In fact, it’s probably even worse in those cases.  If Whoville is going to actually build a stadium for the local nine, at least all of those expenditures are out in the open.  Sure, the final price will end up being higher than anyone predicted, but at least it will be sold to the public as “Whoville taxpayers to pay for stadium.”

In places like the Bay Area, where pure public funding is a political impossibility, there are all kinds of incentives to hide the ball with respect to just how much the taxpayers are actually going be hit for.  As the experts here note, nothing is free in this world, even when all of the politicians involved claim that it is.

I still think that San Jose is the right place for the A’s, and if I lived there, I don’t think I’d have a problem with some minimal public outlay to make it happen.  But there has to be honesty from the government when it comes to this stuff.  They can’t sell it as a painless financial panacea.  Come out and say: “this will cost a little, but it will be worth a lot in the long run,” and let the chips fall where they may.

For much, much more on this — and I really mean much more — check out the most excellent “New A’s Ballpark” blog, which is all over the entire A’s-to-San Jose story.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.