Dickey: Niners confident heading into stadium vote 

The 49ers are only 11 days away from the critical vote in Santa Clara on their proposed new stadium, and they’re encouraged by the response they’ve gotten from voters.

“What seems to be resonating with voters is the fact there will be no new taxes or a tapping of the general fund,” Lisa Lang, who’s heading up the effort for the 49ers, told me. “We’ve been getting a very favorable response.”

In fact, the matter might already be decided.

“Santa Clara expects that 70 to 75 percent of the ballots will come from absentee voting,” Lang said.

The Santa Clara contribution comes via money from its Redevelopment Agency and an increased visitors’ tax for hotels, plus two items that have already been approved by voters — moving and updating an electrical substation and building a parking garage.

Lisa Gillmor, a former Santa Clara councilwoman, has been in charge of the canvassing of residents, and she’s also heard the questions about how it affects the city’s bottom line.

“They want to make sure the city is protected,” Gillmor said, “and that there won’t be a boost in their utility bills.”

That’s a hangover from the Giants’ attempt to build a park in the South Bay in the early 1990s, including one proposal that would have been financed by a boost in the utility tax.

Gillmor has been impressed by voters’ knowledge.

“We haven’t had to explain to residents what this is about,” she said. “They all know about it. When we’ve explained what it will do for the city, we’ve gotten a very positive response.”

This would be another example of an NFL team playing in a city different than the one on its uniform. The New York Giants and New York Jets have played in New Jersey for years — and have just built a new stadium there — while calling themselves New York teams. The Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium, which will host the Super Bowl in February, is in Arlington, Texas, almost exactly halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth.

In the past month, I’ve talked to the head of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau and the mayor of Arlington, and they’ve both been enthusiastic about what the stadium has meant to their cities. Arlington put $325 million into the stadium, which it owns and leases to the Cowboys. The city collects sales tax on everything sold in the stadium, and its revenue increased last year despite the recession.

The Arlington contribution to the Cowboys’ stadium dwarfs the total of $114 million proposed by Santa Clara, but that contribution is essential for a public-private plan that would qualify for a loan from the league. The NFL’s G-3 program is bankrupt, but it’s expected that it will be refunded.

I believe the success of the 49ers’ project depends on the team. If it returns to the postseason, it will be much easier to sell personal-seat licenses and attract outside investors.

Gillmor is excited about the potential for Santa Clara.

“This is a busy area during the week, but it’s quiet, too quiet, on the weekend. This would be just what we need.”

On June 8, we’ll see if Santa Clara voters agree.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

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Glenn Dickey

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