The San Jose City Council voted Tuesday to proceed with funding $85,000 worth of maintenance at Municipal Stadium regardless of principal tenant the San Jose Giants' involvement in a lawsuit against the city seeking to block an Oakland A's move to a proposed downtown ballpark.
But the council declared in its 8-3 vote that the city still will press for answers about the minor-league team's involvement and funding of the lawsuit challenging the proposed A's ballpark's environmental approval, and those answers could factor into renewal of the San Jose Giants' operating agreement at Municipal Stadium next year.
"The questions posed are reasonable," Councilwoman Rose Herrera said. "I just don't think they should be tied to the budget decision."
Councilmen Sam Liccardo and Pete Constant had proposed that the city hold off on approving the $85,000 for maintenance at the city's World War II-era Municipal Stadium as leverage in seeking answers to the San Jose Giants' involvement in a lawsuit filed in December by a group called Stand for San Jose.
The lawsuit challenges the city's environmental impact studies of the proposed A's ballpark, which would be built on industrial land near the Diridon train station. The San Francisco Giants have acknowledged that they as well as their minor-league affiliate the San Jose Giants partly support Stand for San Jose.
The San Jose Giants have been the San Francisco team's minor-league affiliate since
The San Francisco Giants have opposed the A's proposed San Jose move on grounds that the Giants built their AT&T Park based on Major League Baseball assigning them exclusive territorial rights to Santa Clara County. The A's owners have argued that Major League Baseball had only granted those rights in the early 1990s.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig assigned a committee to review the dispute and said earlier this year that a new A's ballpark is a priority, but he has offered no timetable for a decision.
Liccardo said the commissioner "is very interested in the litigation" and that "that litigation may well impair us from having" an A's ballpark project, which he called "the most transformative private economic development project" for the city "in anyone's memory."
Liccardo argued the council could budget the maintenance money for Municipal Stadium and decide after getting answers to questions about the ballclub's involvement in the lawsuit whether to proceed with the maintenance work. The maintenance would improve field drainage, parking lot striping and concrete sealing to stop water from leaking from the seating area into the hallway housing the food booths during the offseason.
"I'm not sure why we're so reluctant to tie this to the budget," Liccardo said. "It's all about money."
But only Mayor Chuck Reed agreed with the approach Liccardo and Constant proposed. The rest of the council backed an alternative proposed by Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, whose district includes Municipal Stadium, to fund the ballpark improvements and deal with the litigation questions later.
Council members suggested the questions could be dealt with in the context of renewing the San Jose Giants' operating agreement with the city for Municipal Stadium next year. Liccardo and Constant argued the current agreement is generous to the Giants, including a $1,000 monthly rent payment.
While Selig continues to ponder the A's move, council members said they hope the city can some day host both the A's and the minor-league Giants, a team that has cultivated a loyal following with affordable, family-friendly baseball that has developed many of the San Francisco Giants' current stars. For that reason Herrera argued the city shouldn't hesitate to maintain Muni Stadium.
"A lot of children wouldn't be able to see baseball played if not for that facility," Herrera said.
In other action, the council approved a $395,000 settlement with two female fire captains who claimed they were unfairly passed over for promotions by less-qualified men. The city admits no wrongdoing in the settlement. But fire Chief William McDonald said afterward that his department has worked to eliminate "perceptions of inconsistencies" in the promotions process to avoid "a perception of unfairness."
Contact John Woolfolk at 408-975-9346.