San Jose officials are so eager to land the Oakland Athletics that they’re willing to sell Lew Wolff land for less than half it’s worth on the open market.
The deal would sell about five acres of prime downtown land for $6.9 million. San Jose paid $25.1 million for the six parcels of land over the last decade, and a 2010 evaluation from Colliers indicated the land was worth $13.9 million. The city would sell the land to Wolff for $6.9 million, subject to its use as the base of a new ballpark; since that approval is highly unlikely to come in coming weeks, Wolff would enter into a deal for a $50,000, two-year option.
More land would be needed to complete the 13.4-acre ballpark site; AT&T and a Los Gatos family controls 5.5 acres.
The plan to sell the land at a loss with no competitive bidding is raising some eyebrows in San Jose, with critics saying it’s an indefensible sweetheart deal. City officials defend the deal as needed to bring professional baseball to San Jose. Because the land is being sold at a loss, it will need to pass a citizen referendum, so voters will have the final say.
Of course, all this talk is meaningless without a resolution to the A’s ballpark situation. It’s been more than two years since a blue-chip committee was appointed by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to analyze the team’s ballpark options. Since then, the economy has worsened and California’s economic-development funding has been coopted by the state, a move currently being challenged in court. We’d anticipate some resolution to the economic-development situation before any movement on a new ballpark.
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