Voters to decide if Giants will find way to San Jose


LOS ANGELES -- The San Francisco Giants, who long ago lost their heart for windy Candlestick Park, found their way to San Jose yesterday and announced a pact that will let them begin playing ball in the less-famous Bay Area city by 1996.

San Jose, seeking once and for all to move out of the shadow of San Francisco, will put up $155 million to help finance construction of a new, open-air stadium that would seat 48,000 people.

The agreement between the city and the baseball team must be ratified by the voters of San Jose -- most likely in June -- and city leaders are optimistic they will win. Two years ago, San Jose voters supported an unsuccessful regional plan that would have raised taxes to help build a stadium for the Giants.

"While others around us share in the suffering of a deep economic recession," said San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer, "San Jose steps forward to seize an opportunity to provide jobs, stimulate our local economy, attract substantial new investments, and put San Jose on the map as a truly major-league city."

The Giants, who moved west from New York in 1958, will become known as the San Jose Giants when they move into their new stadium.

"What's in a name?" quipped Corey Busch, vice president of the team. "It's better than the St. Petersburg Giants. I'm sure it was hard for some people in New York to get used to the name 'San Francisco Giants.' "

For San Francisco and its new mayor, Frank Jordan, the loss of the Giants comes as a major blow. For years, the team has been eager to leave its cold, windy stadium but San Francisco, in two separate elections, rejected proposals for a new stadium within the city.

"It's sad such a big city can't keep the team," said Lauren Fleischman, assistant manager of the Giants Dugout, a downtown San Francisco store that sells team souvenirs. "It just didn't seem like there was enough interest in San Francisco to keep the team. I think it's great for the team, though, that they're going to San Jose because they're going to have a great new ballpark."

Few Giants fans will miss Candlestick Park, located beside San Francisco Bay on the south side of the city, where notorious swirling winds bedevil players and spectators alike.

In one well-known incident, a strong gust of wind during the 1961 All-Star Game blew Giants pitcher Stu Miller out of his windup, and he was called for a balk.

One of the most memorable moments at Candlestick occurred just before the third game of the 1989 World Series, when the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake struck and fans poured out of the stadium.

The Giants were never able to win a world championship while in San Francisco, but twice won the National League pennant.

Jordan, who took office in San Francisco a week ago, may become known as the mayor who lost the Giants.

During his campaign last year, he proposed curing Candlestick's ills by installing wind baffles over the stadium. But the Giants, who already had made it clear they wanted a new stadium, found his plan unacceptable.

Jordan has no plan to lure the Giants back to San Francisco but said he was keeping his options open in case San Jose's voters reject the deal.

Under the San Jose plan, the Giants will match the city's $155 million with a $30 million contribution of their own. The team also will assume all risks of overruns in building the park and the costs of operating it. The team will pay initial rent of $3 million a year to the city.

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