Santa Clara city voters approved Measure J with 60% of the vote June 8 meaning the 49ers have jumped their first big hurdle of moving the team to the South Bay. The 49ers plan to keep the name San Francisco 49ers. It was clear from the moment the York’s took full control of the 49ers that they had no interest in keeping the 49ers in San Francisco where they have called home since 1946. Pushing aside stadium plans in San Francisco at Candlestick Point and the newest one at the redevelopment site Hunters Point the 49ers went all-in in Santa Clara spending over $4 million to persuade the 46,000 registered voters to approve the plan. Compare that to the opposition group who spent $20,000 and it is no wonder why the measure passed.
San Francisco is still in the picture although that took a huge hit yesterday with the passage of Measure J. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said the city will still move ahead with the plans for a new stadium at Hunters Point. With the 49ers expected to break ground on the new Santa Clara stadium in 2012 I don’t see many options for luring the team back to S.F. The only thing I can see happening in the future that would bring S.F. back into the picture are financial reasons. Measure J calls for city funds to only come out of redevelopment money to finance its share of the project without ever touching general funds. All cost overruns will be covered by the 49ers. Santa Clara will pony up $79 million, surrounding hotels will provide $35 million through a voluntary tax, and the 49ers and the stadium authority are on the hook for the remaining $823 million. The stadium authority plans to pay for their share through stadium naming rights, concession agreements, seat licenses and other sources like the NFL.
From my understanding this is where the stadium plan can go south: The 49ers not being able to cover their share of the costs. I am not sure exactly how much of those cash sources the 49ers need to have in hand to start building the stadium but this would be San Francisco’s last chance to keep the team. Years ago when the idea of moving the 49ers outside of San Francisco city limits came up city officials said they might create a law that only sports teams residing within the city can use San Francisco in their name. I have not heard anything of this being taken up again but it is something to look out for in the future.
For 49er fans in and around San Francisco and those outside who are traditionalists when it comes to the Red and Gold, a stadium in San Francisco is the only way. I strongly agree but does that mean we have to root for the 49ers to fail when it comes to building the stadium in Santa Clara?
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