Among the hundreds of 49ers fans at a South Bay pep rally on Saturday to kick off a campaign to build a stadium in Santa Clara was 70-year-old Ron Ramos.
After listening to 49ers President Jed York thank a deluge of politicians in a convention center filled with free hot dogs, hamburgers and children’s face painting, the retired man was ready tell his neighbors why they should vote for a new stadium in June.
“It’s not going to cost us anything,” Ramos said. “There’s a little risk in everything, but I have faith in the Niners. They’re not like the Raiders.”
The 49ers are banking on Ramos and the 700 others invited to a launch of Santa Clarans for Economic Progress, a campaign committee with major financial backing from the 49ers franchise, to spread the word.
The group this month delivered more than 8,000 signatures to Santa Clara City Hall, considerably more than the roughly 7,000 needed to put the $937 million stadium measure on the June 8 election ballot.
If the measure is passed, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s hopes of building a new stadium for the team in the reclaimed area in San Francisco’s Hunters Point Naval Shipyard are sunk.
And if Bill Bailey, a stadium opponent with Santa Clara Plays Fair, had a chance to speak with Ramos, he would tell him he’s being fooled. Bailey said $114 million in public finds will be used for the stadium and the job benefits won’t outweigh the costs.
“The so-called jobs benefits are completely exaggerated,” Bailey said. “The construction jobs will be gone in five years, but Santa Clarans will be paying for it for 40 years.”
Among those attending Saturday were several Santa Clara City Council members, Mayor Patricia Mahan and state Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, who referred to a new state law, introduced by state Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, that carved out a one-time exception allowing the 49ers to choose a construction company without putting out a bid.
“We had a little fight with the people up north,” Beall said in reference to passing the legislation. “You’ve had your chance. Now, it’s our turn.”
The Santa Clara City Council is expected on Tuesday to approve the signature gathering effort and set June 8 for an election.