Garcia: Niners dropped the ball 

When the San Francisco 49ers unveil their financial scheme to get Santa Clara to help fund its proposed stadium deal tonight, they’ll be bringing out a plan that’s as familiar as its once-vaunted West Coast offense.

You know, how they’ll be providing hundreds of jobs, millions of dollars to the local economy, untold amounts of tax revenue — the whole nine yards. And it will have all the merit of a prediction that the team will get to the Super Bowl next year.

We know this because the organization has been saying the exact same thing for 10 years now — only the city and the dollar amount have changed.

But don’t take my word for it — listen to the 49ers. For I have in my possession the document that they showed San Franciscans to get their $100 million bond in 1997, a classic piece of political propaganda put together by the team and its overpaid consultants appropriately titled "We Dropped the Ball."

Boy, did they. And now they’re trying to get Santa Clara to pick it up for them. A note to taxpayers in the South Bay city — read the fine print. It will sound something like this:

"We thought [the stadium plan] would sell itself, but we were wrong,’’ the 49ers said in their previous stadium-selling brochure. "We just dropped the ball when it came to the complex world of San Francisco politics. We want to apologize to the people of San Francisco. This plan will be a big gain for every San Franciscan — and especially for the residents of the Bayview-Hunters Point area. We don’t want our lack of experience in the rough-and-tumble world of politics to put that all at risk.’’

The organization has spent the last decade trying to sharpen its political skills — though with John York at the helm, it has taken a battering. Not only are the 49ers trying to carry off the nearly impossible feat of negotiating with two cities at the same time, it is now trying to get an increasingly difficult financing package from Santa Clara that would include raiding funds from the city’s electric utility.

And that’s a difficult prospect when a lot of city officials are opposed to it, which is why the team has been trying to build community support by issuing snazzy fliers touting the team’s civic and economic benefits from a new stadium.

Sound familiar? "While the details are complex, the fundamental plan is simple,’’ according to the previous city sales brochure. "The City will use its bonding ability to pay for no more than $100 million of the $525 million stadium project.’’

That should make the citizens of Santa Clara very nervous, for not only are the 49ers talking about getting bonds from the city’s Redevelopment Agency, they’re also talking about getting acres of land donated for the stadium and parking. And, of course, the amount that the team is trying to pry through its various financing options is around $200 million, which is a pretty penny for a city with just over 100,000 residents.

Word has it that the National Football League is getting very nervous about the 49ers dual dance trying to get a new stadium in place by 2012, and that’s no surprise since the Santa Clara deal is based on the contingency that the NFL kick in untold millions to build the stadium. But by the 49ers’ own admission, there are no funds available since the NFL has used up its account to get a new stadium built for the Giants and the Jets in New Jersey.

But hey, why worry about the money in the 49ers’ version of Monopoly? After all, the cost of the stadium has gone from $525 million to a reported $950 million ever since the first promise was tossed from the team’s headquarters.

People in Santa Clara will hear something like this: "It is expected that this project will generate (fill in the blank) millions directly to the residents.’’ The team once promised that more than $1 million would go directly to the San Francisco Unified School District, that $12 million would be spent on affordable housing and that $5 million would be spent each year for public transportation improvements. And that’s not to mention the $325 million in spending for every Super Bowl played in San Francisco and the 10,000 jobs it was going to create.

That will explain why the team is getting nervous since it faces an Aug. 10 deadline to get any initiative on the ballot. And why the fancy marketing brochures are back, with some incredibly inflated numbers?

It just goes to show that in the 49ers’ hands, that ball can be awfully slippery.

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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