Tuesday’s election for Mayor and City Council in Escondido (Cal.) could go a long ways in determining the fate of the Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) in 2012 in beyond, as most candidates oppose spending public money on a new ballpark.
We already know there will be a new mayor in the North County city, as incumbent Lori Holt Pfeiler has decided to step down and instead is running for City Council. She’s been a strong proponent of spending $50 million on a new ballpark for the relocated Bevos (a cost that could easily exceed $90 million by the time the costs of borrowing the money are tallied), as is incumbent Marie Waldron, who is running for reelection.
The five challengers for the two positions on the council (the top two votegetters take office) all oppose spending public money on the ballpark. The issue: whether spending that much money on a new ballpark would actually spur economic development. A report from The London Group says yes; the challengers are openly skeptical of that claim.
In the mayoral race, there’s no incumbent, and the three leading contenders aren’t as vehemently opposed to the ballpark as the City Council candidates, but there’s still a high level of skepticism from all three.
The proposal: the city would build a new ballpark for the Beavers, which San Diego Padres owner Jeff Moorad is in the process of buying for a reported $18 million. The Padres would put little up front and receive virtually all the revenues from the ballpark.
In a year where incumbents are an endangered species and the voting base is veering right, being a Republican opposing the expansion of government isn’t a bad position to take, which is why the dynamics of the election could matter. It’s clear the election was taken into account by ballpark proponents and the Padres: both sides wants to see a ballpark deal go down in November. Whether all the pieces can be put together before a new city government takes office in 2011.
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