Do championship trophies help Bay Area sports teams win with voters and …

A huddle of Bay Area sports teams need support from politicians and voters to pull off massive stadium, arena and development projects. Will those teams’ on-field successes (or distinct lack of them) affect their front offices’ chances to win support for major projects?

You probably know the storylines I’m talking about. On the real estate side, the Giants want to create a mini-neighborhood that will make heaps of money on public land next to ATT Park, an effort that will need the blessing of often-finicky city voters. The Warriors want to play in a Mission Bay arena, but several big-money University of California-San Francisco boosters are trying to stop them). And the A’s and Raiders have been clawing at Oakland stadium deals for years, making the case for public financing or at least official cooperation.

Meanwhile, the Giants have won three out of the last five World Series. The Warriors just clinched their first conference title and trip to the NBA championship in 40 years Wednesday night. The A’s haven’t tasted title glory in a while, but are typically contenders. The Raiders haven’t made the playoffs in 13 years.


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Maybe their success or failures won’t directly correlate with stadium or development support. But W’s in the standings logically means W’s in politics, said Andrew Zimbalist, a prominent sports economist at Smith College.

He said he hasn’t studied this question directly, but said, “impressionistically, there’s definitely an relationship between team performance and public’s willingness to support public financing.” He pointed to the San Diego Padres’ ability to get public dollars for Petco Park once the team had successful seasons in the late 1990s.

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