What to make of 49ers' stadium deal


What to make of 49ers' stadium deal

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.

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations


Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.