Voters rejected a tax-funded stadium for the San Francisco Giants, apparently casting the baseball team's future in Northern California in doubt.
Voters in five Santa Clara County communities defeated the 1 percent utility tax to finance a 45,000-seat, $153 million ballpark that would have opened in 1994, replacing aging, windswept Candlestick Park.With all precincts counted in a combined election in Santa Clara, San Jose, Sunnyvale and Milpitas, the tax was opposed by 129,652 voters (50.5 percent) compared to 126,906 (49.5 percent) voting in favor of the measure. Those totals do not include absentee ballots submitted at polling places, however.
A separate, equally essential measure to approve San Jose's participation in the project failed 49 percent to 51 percent.
Another measure in Santa Clara passed 51 percent to 49 percent. It will allow use of 98 acres of city-owned land south of state Highway 237 between Great America Parkway and the Guadalupe River for the stadium.
Voters in Mountain View overwhelmingly rejected participation in the project, with 61.2 percent opposed and 38.8 percent in favor of the measure. That measure was not essential to the stadium.
The cost of the tax was estimated at $16 to $18 a year per household for 12 to 14 years.
Commissioner Fay Vincent, in Osaka, Japan, for baseball's postseason goodwill tour, said he was "disappointed" in the vote, but said he did not want to make any other comments at this time.
Giants owner Bob Lurie turned his sights to Santa Clara, 40 miles to the south, after twice being rebuffed by voters in the team's hometown of 33 years in requests for a new stadium.
The Giants topped 2 million in attendance at 64,000-seat Candlestick only in 1989, their pennant-winning year, and fell slightly below that mark this year. Across the bay in Oakland, with a lesser population base but more accessible and comfortable ballpark, the American League champion Athletics drew 2.9 million fans this year.
The Giants' lease at Candlestick runs through 1992. But San Francisco officials said last year that the team would be allowed to leave in 1991 if the city's voters again rejected a new downtown ballpark.
After that narrow defeat at the polls, Lurie reopened negotiations with officials in Santa Clara County, home of much of the Giants' fan base. He promised to sell the team or move it elsewhere unless a stadium was approved.
Backers of the stadium went all out, spending more than $500,000 to less than $3,000 for opponents, and bringing in such baseball luminaries as Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Vincent and National League President Bill White to campaign for approval.