Ten years ago, Santa Clara’s budget was coming out of the Great Recession — posting a $6.6 million surplus — stadium boosters were hoping for a Super Bowl in the as-yet-unfinished future Levi’s Stadium, and the new Northside Library was in peril of not opening for lack of funds. Related was hawking its vision of Broadway on the Northside, and another group of fantasists were peddling a world-class aquatics center across the street.
At the March 19, 2013, Council meeting, the public got its first view of the City’s Super Bowl bid. The Super Bowl idea had been around for at least two years.
“Imagine 70,000 football aficionados flocking to Santa Clara for the 2016 Super Bowl,” wrote Robert Haugh in 2011, and, in 2012. “Imagine Vernon Davis, Alex Smith, Patrick Willis and the 49ers strutting onto the field in February 2016 for the Golden Jubilee at the Super Bowl 50 here in Santa Clara.”
Everybody — everybody, that is, except the Debbie Downers at Santa Clara Plays Fair, who now make up a majority of the City Council — couldn’t say enough about what a swell thing a Super Bowl would be, catapulting Santa Clara into the stratosphere of civic greatness.
(Reportedly, the chief imagineer of Levi’s Stadium, former Council Member Kevin Moore, is promoting another Super Bowl bid. Perhaps he thinks the acrimony engendered by the last one has been forgotten.)
But things weren’t looking so good for the Northside Library. The Library Foundation was passing the hat to raise $250,000 for the new library’s operations. That the library got built at all was something of a miracle.
Although money had been allocated to build the library, none was available to operate it and the project hung in limbo for years. Then after construction began, the county tried to “claw back” the land in the 2011 redevelopment agency shutdown, claiming that RDA money had been improperly used to build the library. (The county finally relinquished its claim in late 2013.)
These things did eventually come to fruition. But the other 2013 “visions” proved to be just that.
At the April 9, 2013 Council meeting, Related unveiled its concept for a Northside “entertainment district” on the Santa Clara Municipal Golf Course and BMX track that would be five times as big as Santana Row.
“We feel the potential for a major positive economic impact on the city, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Related California President Bill Witte.
For decades there has barely been money to keep Santa Clara’s International Swim Center operating, never mind rebuilding it. In 2013, a “blue ribbon commission” — headed by a UC Trustee, a former Facebook CEO and former Council Member Moore — conceived a blue-chip aquatics center in the yet-to-be Northside Xanadu.
The aquatics center faded like a mirage. Broadway on the Northside has yet to materialize or deliver a penny to Santa Clara’s wounded budget.
Meanwhile, as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The City Library Foundation just launched a fundraising campaign to restore library hours, bring back library programs and maintain collections.