The San Francisco Giants have long peddled a charming fiction about their ballpark, billing it as the “the first privately financed ballpark in Major League Baseball since 1962.” That would be a fact worth commending if it were at all true, but according to a study conducted by urban planner Judith Grant Long, it’s a big fat lie.
Via Baseball Prospectus:
To see why, let’s take a closer look at the Giants’ Pac Bell Park (now SBC Park, and soon to be AT&T Park if the latest merger-related rumors are true). The widely reported $15 million in public funds—used to relocate a public transit facility that was in the way of the ballpark—was just the tip of the iceberg, it turns out. Long estimates $33 million in value for the land itself, donated by the local government for the cause at no cost to the Giants; $25 million worth of municipal fire, police, and garbage services; and $83 million in forgone property taxes, because despite being privatedly owned, the stadium nonetheless receives a full property tax exemption.
So it’s more than a little galling to see the Giants, who were gifted a waterfront property in the most booming real-estate market in the country, seeking a tax break from the city. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the team is preparing to argue in front of the San Francisco Assessment Appeals Board that the value of their stadium has somehow dropped to $158 million, and that their property taxes should be cut in half as a result.
Who knows where the Giants pulled that $158 million figure out of, but it differs wildly from the $407 million that city Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu valued the property at in 2014. Giants general counsel Jack Bair told the Chronicle that Chu retroactively raised the team’s property taxes by 97 precent in 2011, and has continued to raise it in subsequent years. This makes me want Carmen Chu to be in charge of setting the property tax rates for every baseball stadium in America.