The 49ers do not belong in San Francisco. Mayor Gavin Newsom’s fear of being known as the mayor who lost the 49ers is an insufficient reason for keeping them within the city limits.
The 49ers were born in San Francisco, but in the 61 years since, the fan base has moved away from The City. Precise figures aren’t available, but it’s believed less than 10 percent of season ticket-holders live in San Francisco. The great bulk of fans is on the Peninsula or in the South Bay.
There is precedent within the NFL for a team moving outside the city limits.
It’s been many years since the Cowboys played in Dallas. The New York Giants and New York Jets have been playing in New Jersey and are now building a new stadium in that state.
There is no particular benefit in having an NFL team within the city limits.
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Unlike baseball fans, who often eat in restaurants near the park and sometimes shop in the city and even stay in hotels, football fans tailgate before and after games and then go home.
Even if fans wanted to shop, there is nothing at Candlestick Park. Hunters Point, the site the mayor is currently pushing, is no better, and the access would continue to be by city streets. In fact, Hunters Point is even further from the freeway. The only public transit at Candlestick are game-day Muni buses, and that would also be true at Hunters Point.
Meanwhile, The City is on the hook for providing extra police on game day, a cost that is seldom factored in by those who think it’s vital that the 49ers stay in San Francisco.
There are two sites which are preferable for a new 49ers stadium.
One is the site I have mentioned before, on city-owned land on the other side of Highway 101 from the airport. It is close to three freeways and would probably take less travel time for those coming from the north, though the distance is greater.
Public transit is excellent, with the BART extension to the airport and a Caltrain line from San Jose.
The other site is the one the 49ers are currently exploring, next to the Great America amusement park in Santa Clara. That also has excellent access, close to freeways. Public transit includes a train that goes to Sacramento, the home of a sizable number of 49ers fans.
San Francisco could even benefit from having the 49ers play in a new stadium at one of these locations.
The Super Bowl is a great money-maker because, unlike the World Series, it’s played at a neutral site. Perhaps 90 percent of those attending come from elsewhere, and they stay in area hotels and eat at area restaurants. When Eddie DeBartolo and Carmen Policy were pushing for a new stadium in 1997, one of the promises from the league was that at least one Super Bowl would be played there.
If a Super Bowl was played in a new stadium at either of these sites, it’s not difficult to predict that almost all of the hotel-restaurant business would go to San Francisco, which is a favorite travel destination worldwide. Santa Clara is a travel destination only for Milpitas residents.
So, give it up, Gavin. Let the 49ers go. Your constituents don’t care.