deYoung: Another economic curiosity

I suspect many of you think of San Francisco as so far left as to be nearer the socialist than the liberal camp (for those of you who make a distinction between “socialist” and “liberal,” that is).

I don’t live there, to be sure, or even go there much; I live in the Silicon Valley, one of California’s many areas that “paradoxically” has relatively high-income families who are, by and large, Democrats. (Much of this is the difference between social politics and economic politics, but that’s another post–one that I won’t be writing.)

Anyway, I was struck by some semi-related news reports when the rebuilt deYoung Museum was getting ready to reopen–both about the deYoung and other city museums, and about ball parks. There’s a connection.

Here’s the situation:

Two bond measures that would have, in part, paid for most of the costs of rebuilding the deYoung (badly damaged in the 1989 earthquake–and no, the Feds didn’t jump in and pay for all, or even much, of the damages), failed–for various reasons.

So a wealthy local “socialite”, Dede Wilsey, basically said “the heck with this” and decided to raise the money privately. Roughly $200 million. People who didn’t know Ms. Wilsey scoffed. My guess is that nobody who did know her scoffed…

She did it, and the result is a stunning new museum, owned by the city but pretty much entirely paid for with private funds.

Then there’s the lovely ballpark that the San Francisco Giants play in. I suppose the proper name is “SBC Park” but it’s “PacBell Park” to most folks around here. (The Giants used to play in Candlestick Park, which also has some corporate name like Monster Park; the SF 49ers football team still does.)

Guess what? The new[ish] baseball park (it opened in 2000) was paid for entirely with private funds.

If you know anything about major-league sports stadia or city museums, you know how unusual both of these examples are, particularly in an era where you’re talking nine digits to do the job. (For ballparks, it’s the first privately-financed major-league case since 1962.)

Cosmic significance? None, really.

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