City council approves 49ers stadium negotiations
By Jason Bennert
January 16, 2008
The City of Santa Clara and the San Francisco 49ers stopped
dating and got serious Tuesday night.
The Santa Clara City Council voted 6-1 to begin formal negotiations
with the 49ers over the terms of constructing a new stadium for
The 49ers current home, San Francisco's aging Monster Park, is
the oldest unrenovated stadium in the National Football League.
The proposed new 65,000-seat stadium is projected to cost as much
as $854 million with additional associated costs, including moving
an electric substation adjacent to the stadium site and relocating
a parking garage, which would bring the total project cost to
an estimated $916 million.
The Santa Clara city manager's office spent eight months studying
the feasibility of the 49ers stadium proposal. Tuesday night,
they recommended that the city council proceed with negotiations
with the 49ers with several key caveats, most importantly that
the city contribution to the project's cost have a hard cap of
"The absolute limit of the city... financing capability
is $136 million," Assistant City Manager Ron Garratt told
Another major unresolved issue is the position of Cedar Fair
Entertainment, the company that operates Great America. Their
opposition could potentially kill the project because of their
lease with the City. To date, the company has not been enthusiastic
about the project and rejected the 49ers preferred stadium site,
the park's main parking lot. 49ers team executive Jed York, the
son of team owners Denise DeBartolo York and her husband John
York, told the city council that the new stadium would be "a
home that will keep the 49ers as a Bay Area treasure for the next
However, when asked by Councilman Will Kennedy, York would not
promise that the 49ers would not also pursue a new stadium in
San Francisco while negotiating with Santa Clara.
"We would continue to evaluate back-up sites until... there's
a deal in place," York said. York did tell the council that
the team is not currently in talks with San Francisco and has
no plans to do so.
Any final deal negotiated by the 49ers and city officials would
most likely be put before Santa Clara voters sometime this year.
The council is scheduled to discuss a ballot measure regarding
the stadium project at its Jan. 22 meeting.
Councilwoman Jamie McLeod opposed beginning negotiations with
the team after concluding that the project was not feasible.
"I simply believe that the project is not the best use of
our resources," McLeod said. "We should look to build
a better project with more benefits and fewer drawbacks."
Following the council vote, York said he was ecstatic about proceeding
and the team is ready for a public vote on the proposal. He said
whether the vote is in June or in November would not impact the
stadium's construction schedule.
"We need to make sure schedule-wise we have a complete plan
for the citizens of Santa Clara to vote on,'' York said.
York also promised to do "back flips'' if the citizens of
Santa Clara approve the stadium proposal by the same 6-1 margin
that the council voted Tuesday night.
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