The San Francisco Giants lost to the Philadelphia Philles tonight in Game 5. As I was walking down 24th Street in Noe Valley, past Valley Tavern, Dubliner, all the way down to Noe’s Bar, it was pretty quiet. Crowds were not spilling into the streets. Across the street, Tuggey’s Hardware was closed, but a Giants jersey was displayed in the window. Like many establishments in Noe Valley, they had well-wishes in the store window. Up and down 24th Street of Noe Valley, fans walked with Giants jerseys and caps. If the Giants were on their way to the World Series, I am sure that the bars would be more crowded.
As I walking through Noe Valley, I could not help but think about how hard it is to value a major league franchise to a city. In1992, the Giants almost left San Francisco for Florida, but the league pressured Bob Lurie to sell to Peter Magowan for $100 million. At the time, attendance was just over 19,000 per game. In 1976, the Giants almost left for Toronto, but Bob Lurie bought the team for $8 million when attendance was 8,000 per game. Current attendance at AT&T is over 37,000 per game. Attendance and winning is correlated with business around the stadium, and establishments throughout the Bay Area.
Clearly, having a major league team in town has value to establishments in Noe Valley and the Bay Area. However, with the dramatic changes in attendance, free-agency salaries, winning and losing, and the variability of business, how does one value a team to a city? Yet, citizens are routinely asked to vote on public support for stadium measures. How does any citizen make an informed choice among public support for a new stadium, social welfare, and public safety when resources are constrained?