Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Here’s a second day of stories from California that exemplify changing attitudes towards public land use and private wealth. The Athletics baseball franchise plans to move from its current home in Oakland to a new stadium in Fremont, in the South Bay area, close to the affluence of San Jose and Silicon Valley. (The history of the franchise’s movement mirrors the changes in the central land uses in America –- from old downtown Philadelphia in 1901, to a residential neighborhood of Kansas City in 1955, to the western city of Oakland in 1968, to an exurban Fremont plot today.) The reports are that the local governments will pay little for either the purchase of land or the construction of a new Athletics’ stadium. Similarly, the National Football League has been unsuccessful in getting some public funding for a new franchise in the Los Angeles area, which has been without a team since public money from St. Louis helped lure away the Rams in 1995.
It makes sense that governments in California are reluctant either to use public funds or to secure public land for sports stadia. The questionable arguments for public support –- that it helps pump the local economy and provides favorable publicity for the city –- might possibly make sense for smaller cities such as Memphis or Salt Lake City. They make no sense for the famous, colossal, and diversified metropolises of California.