“If Gov. Brown wins, plans for sports venues in Escondido and San Diego lose.” So ran a headline on the Los Angeles Times’ blog earlier this year. The article noted if the governor were successful in abolishing redevelopment agencies, it could kill plans for a minor-league baseball park in Escondido and a new football stadium for the Chargers in downtown San Diego. Any new stadium for the A’s, either in Oakland or San Jose, could experience some similar fate.
With SB 77 falling 1 vote short of the requisite 2/3 majority in the Assembly, and traction being gained by the California Redevelopment Association’s alternative proposal, stadium boosters may be breathing a cautious sigh of relief. In view of a bill introduced by Chris Norby (R-Fullerton), that sigh may be premature.
Assemblyman Norby, a long time critic of redevelopment, was the sole Republican to cross over and vote for the Governor’s proposal to abolish redevelopment agencies. In the past, he has been particularly critical of the use of redevelopment funds for the Chargers’ new stadium, calling it “corporate welfare at its worst.” Earlier this year, he introduced a bill that, while technical in nature, would stifle the use of redevelopment funds for professional sports stadiums.
AB 1234, introduced in February and amended in the Assembly on March 31, 2011, would prohibit redevelopment agencies from using tax increment revenue or revenue derived from bond proceeds for the promotion, recruitment, or retention of any professional sports team, or any related activities. Specifically prohibited would be the use of such funds for the “development, planning, design, site acquisition, subdivision, financing, leasing, construction, operations, [or] maintenance of infrastructure [for] the occupancy, recruitment or retention of any professional sports.”
If Assemblyman Norby’s bill ultimately becomes law, the financing of new stadium projects will be that much more difficult, regardless of the overall fate of redevelopment in California.