Garcia: Can the 49ers see the end zone? 

It seems fitting that the San Francisco 49ers want to build a stadium next to a giant amusement park because team officials are spinning their story so hard it’s as if they’re on a Tilt-A-Whirl.

In the current tale, the once-wondrous NFL team is eyeing a parking lot next to Great America in Santa Clara as its favorite site because it fits all of their criter — it’s in the Bay Area, it’s near team headquarters, it doesn’t involve any other residential or commercial development and the team believes it has the support of the local voting public.

All that’s missing is about 10,000 parking spaces and possibly about $200 million in public funding — but hey, they’re working on it and we should be hearing more in about six to eight weeks.

The good news? Baseball season is starting right away!

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And that new offer from the city of San Francisco to clean up the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, give the team the land and have a developer contribute $100 million to finance the stadium’s infrastructure? Well, right now it’s sitting on the bench because every team needs a backup.

Such is the latest storyline being offered by team publicists, who unveiled the 49ers’ various stadium plans and options at a meeting with The Examiner’s editorial board this week. And the feeling one gets after listening to their latest favorite venture is that the organization is feeling a little desperate, since 10 years after they pushed hard for the first stadium plan at Candlestick Park, their latest proposal is fraught with uncertainty.

In fact, one of the only things the team is unwavering about is that the path it is on is full of major obstacles. So there was a good laugh when 49ers spokeswoman Lisa Lang said at the end of the meeting that "that’s the story as we know it today,’’ because it’s been as fluid as the water in the Bay.

And that’s the primary problem with the team’s pursuit of a new 68,000-seat stadium — the organization and its owners have changed their story so many times, it’s gotten increasingly harder to believe. I have listened to team officials talk about a stadium with a mall, a stadium with housing and now a stadium that’s just a stadium so many times that I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out their negotiating strategy had been devised by Al Davis.

Now there may be a few reasons to suggest that Santa Clara is a better new home for the San Francisco 49ers — it has a larger fan base in the South Bay, it offers many more alternative forms of public transit, it has better weather and it’s close to the team’s headquarters. But many of the same problems exist there for a deal to go through in time to get a new stadium built by 2012 — financing, parking and voter uncertainty.

Lang said the team is not really sold on San Francisco’s latest offer because it has serious concerns about the time frame for the cleanup of a Superfund site, but it needs to keep The City’s plan as a secondary idea in the event "that any hurdle becomes insurmountable; then we’d need an alternative site.’’ The alternative plan used to be Santa Clara, but now it’s become The City that is synonymous with the team’s name.

But it’s a little disingenuous to say, as Lang did, that the team was committed to building a stadium in San Francisco for 10 years, since it’s well-documented that after John and Denise DeBartolo York acquired the team from her brother, there was no movement from the owners to build any stadium anywhere while the price and the problems mushroomed.

Indeed, at one point several years ago, Alex Tourk — Mayor Gavin Newsom’s former deputy chief of staff, who resigned after revelations that the mayor and Tourk’s wife had an affair — went to work for the 49ers specifically to help push through a stadium plan. The only problem was that after several months, Tourk realized that there was absolutely no desire to get a stadium built. He left after being with the organization less than a year.

Under the current scenario, the 49ers are looking at getting untold millions of dollars in cash reserves from Silicon Valley Power, Santa Clara’s local utility agency, to help pickup the cost of the $800 million stadium. But the utility’s manager has already gone on record as saying the agency has no desire to part with its cash reserves.

About the only thing we know for sure is that the story will likely continue to shift as fast as the winds at Candlestick. Fake plays, after all, have always been an integral part of football.

Ken Garcia’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends in The Examiner. E-mail him at or call him at (415) 359-2663.

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