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49ers detail plan to move to Santa Clara

By Jason Bennert, Bay City News Service


November 10, 2006

SANTA CLARA (BCN) - San Francisco 49ers co-owner John York said Thursday that infrastructure problems associated with Candlestick Point in San Francisco proved insurmountable and prompted the team to look south at Santa Clara as the site for a new stadium.

The 49ers announced late Wednesday that they are shifting the focus of their site search to Santa Clara, where the team headquarters is located. The team has had discussions this week with Santa Clara officials and with the company that operates the Great America amusement park about building a new stadium on the site of the current amusement park parking lot.

Tony Gonzales, the lead architect of the team's proposed new stadium, said at a news conference this morning that the required infrastructure improvements needed to make the stadium and mixed-use development feasible at Candlestick Point would cost between $700 million and $800 million, far more than the cost of the actual new stadium itself.

"Denise and I recognize the long legacy in San Francisco,'' York said, referring to his wife and co-owner, Denise DeBartolo York. "We're disappointed with the facts but the facts tell us that it won't work. It will work here in Santa Clara.''

York said while Santa Clara is now the team's top priority in the search for a new stadium site, he would not rule out the possibility of re-examining sites in San Francisco.

"It would be foolish just to slam the door,'' York said. York said the team owners are not using the idea of moving to Santa Clara to obtain a better deal from San Francisco.

"We are not leveraging one city against another,'' York said.

Even if the team does move to a stadium in Santa Clara, its name will not change.

"Nothing will persuade us to change the name of the San Francisco 49ers, one of the most storied brands in the world of sports,'' York said.

Team officials expect some sort of public-private partnership with the city of Santa Clara would assist in financing the construction of the stadium, but the parameters of the partnership, such as whether it would include development rights in another area or some other incentive, have not been discussed. However, the team is committed to avoiding any impact on Santa Clara's general fund or raising taxes, team spokeswoman Lisa Lang said.

Lang said the Santa Clara stadium, unlike the Candlestick Point plan, would stand alone without any attached housing or mixed-use development.

Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan said this morning she thought retail and housing development would be part of the plan.

"It's the development rights that make this work without using public funds,'' Mahan said.

"That's crucial to us that it doesn't impact our city general fund.''

Team officials estimate the proposed stadium would cost between $600 million and $800 million, according to Lang.

The team has a goal of playing in its new stadium by the 2012 season, York said.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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