For the past year, fans of the San Francisco Giants professional baseball team have been going to bat for young athletes in that city, paying a 25 cent surcharge on every ticket to help fund interscholastic sports.
Last month’s announcement that the Giants are planning to move to Florida, however, has threatened to leave San Francisco’s school-sports programs stranded like hapless runners on base at the end of an inning.
City officials, who last week were still trying to keep the Giants in town, said sports programs there may fold if the team departs.
“We are all sweating it out that the Giants are threatening to leave town next year,’' said Terence T. Hallinan, a supervisor for the San Francisco city and county government. “That is half of my stadium-admissions tax that helps to support school sports.’'
The surcharge is “a great revenue source,’' Mr. Hallinan said. “Without this tax, there would absolutely not be school sports.’'
Mr. Hallinan proposed a 25 cent surcharge on Giants tickets and a 75 cent surcharge on San Francisco 49ers football tickets in May 1991, in response to warnings by school officials that they might have to cut interscholastic sports. (See Education Week, May 29, 1991.)
The measure met some initial resistance from the sports teams and their fans, but since then has generally been well received.
“It is probably considered the most popular tax ever levied in San Francisco,’' asserted Anne E. Heinline, the school district’s commissioner of athletics.
The surcharge funds the San Francisco district’s $1.06 million budget for interscholastic sports, with about half of the revenue coming from Giants tickets.
The surcharge originally was proposed as a temporary measure that would last only one year. Last spring, however, the supervisors extended the surcharge for another year in response to California’s bleak budget picture.
The district already has eliminated intramural sports and some other programs, and most likely would have to shut down its athletic program completely if cut off from revenue from Giants tickets.
“There is no way we can cut any more of the sports and feel that we have a decent program,’' Ms. Heinline said.
Mr. Hallinan said last week that he was examining alternative sources of revenue, such as a fee for using private golf courses in the city.
City officials are lobbying the National and American leagues to block the $130 million sale of the Giants to investors who would move the team to St. Petersburg, Fla.