Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, a life-long San Francisco 49ers fan, broke his silence Thursday on the team’s planned desertion of San Francisco and vowed that he will never darken the doors of the team’s new stadium in Santa Clara.
At a meeting of the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee, Elsbernd confided that he had been urged to bite his tongue over the past seven years in the event that some Hail Mary pass by The City would manage to keep the 49ers from leaving. But now that ground has been broken for the storied franchise’s new South Bay stadium, Elsbernd realized that his waiting game was over.
“Now I finally get to say what I really think,” he said. “I am absolutely broken-hearted and hugely disappointed.”
Elsbernd said his woe has been compounded recently “by the tremendous leadership that the owners of the Golden State Warriors are showing” by vowing to bring their team to play in San Francisco at a new arena complex that would be privately financed. City leaders hope to woo the Warriors from Oakland with a proposed waterfront stadium at Piers 30 and 32 that would be built without taxpayer funding — albeit with a healthy city investment of land.
Over several years, city officials unsuccessfully sought to persuade the 49ers’ owners, the York family, to embrace a proposed new football stadium as part of the massive redevelopment of the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. But that deal was to include no direct city funding.
The 49ers never took the bait, and Thursday Elsbernd’s committee approved an amendment to The City’s lease with the franchise to allow it to leave before the 2014 football season. The full board votes Tuesday on the lease amendment.
Elsbernd acknowledged finding some consolation in the spirit-crushing loss of the team.
“The NFL is truly a business,” he said. “And from a 49er-fan perspective I’ve seen what’s happened with other franchises when they’ve built their own stadium. They had better teams. If this is what we need to get a Super Bowl parade down Market Street I guess I’ve got to swallow my pride and just suck it up.”
But the supervisor, born and raised in San Francisco, made one vow.
“I’m a Candlestick guy,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll ever see me down there. Maybe my son will go, but not me. I’ve said my peace.”