A Giant Decision: Team Is Moving to San Jose in ‘96 : Baseball: Offer of new 48,000-seat stadium lures club from San Francisco, where it has played since moving from New York.


The San Francisco Giants, who long ago lost their heart for windy Candlestick Park, found their way to San Jose Wednesday and announced a deal that could let them begin playing there by 1996.

San Jose, seeking to move out of the shadow of San Francisco, agreed to put up $155 million to help finance construction of an open-air stadium seating 48,000.

The agreement between the city and the Giants must be ratified by the voters of San Jose--probably in June--and city leaders are optimistic of gaining approval. Two years ago, San Jose voters supported an unsuccessful regional plan that would have raised taxes to help build a stadium for the Giants in Santa Clara County.


“While others around us share in the suffering of a deep economic recession,” San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer said, “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, would become known as the San Jose Giants when they move into their new stadium.

“What’s in a name?” said Corey Busch, vice president of the team. “It’s better than the St. Petersburg (Fla.) 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 would be a major blow. For years, the team has been eager to leave its cold, windy stadium, but San Francisco, in two elections, rejected proposals for a new downtown stadium.

“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 ball park.”

Few Giant 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 Giant pitcher Stu Miller out of his windup, and he was called for a balk.

One of the 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. Candlestick also played host to the 1962 World Series as well as to the National League championship series in 1971, 1987 and 1989.

The Giants have never won a World Series while in San Francisco but twice won the National League pennant.

Jordan, who took office in San Francisco only 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 had already made it clear they wanted a new stadium, found his plan unacceptable.

In a statement issued by his office, Jordan said he had been notified of the San Jose proposal by Giant owner Bob Lurie. Jordan added: “He made it very clear to me that it was not a reflection on my administration.”

Jordan has no plan to lure the Giants back to San Francisco, but he said he was keeping his options open in case San Jose’s voters reject the deal. “If I have the opportunity to negotiate a future deal with the Giants, I’ll do my very best to keep the team in San Francisco.”

If the Giants leave, Candlestick Park will have one major tenant, the San Francisco 49ers.

Under the San Jose plan, the Giants agreed to add $30 million to the city’s $155 million. The club also would assume all risks of overruns in building the park and the costs of operating it. The Giants agreed to pay initial rent of $3 million a year to the city.

The park, with natural grass, would be located on the north side of San Jose near three major highways and the city’s new light rail line.

Hammer said she expected the stadium to bring at least $90 million a year into San Jose’s economy--an argument that will play heavily in the election campaign.

The city is considering various tax proposals to pay its share, including an increase in the utility tax and a hike in the city’s gambling tax. The mayor said it is unlikely that a specific tax proposal will be placed before the voters, but they will be asked to approve the general idea of subsidizing the stadium.

Although San Jose has long been the stepsister of San Francisco, more than 50 miles to the north, it now boasts a larger population--782,248 in San Jose to 723,959 in San Francisco, according to the 1990 census.

San Jose also has invested heavily in rebuilding its downtown, installing a new transit line, and recently attracted its first major league sports team, the San Jose Sharks of the NHL.

For the moment, however, San Jose fans must drive almost to San Francisco to see the Sharks play. Until their new arena is finished, the San Jose team calls the Cow Palace in Daly City its home.

ROSS NEWHAN: The city of O'Doul and DiMaggio, of Mays and McCovey, could be without baseball. C6

SAN FRANCISCO: The city is almost blase about the Giants’ proposed move to San Jose. C6