Niners make $160M pitch to Santa Clara 

Five months after announcing that the team was interested in moving to Santa Clara, the San Francisco 49ers finally puttheir financial cards on the table, telling city council members of the small Silicon Valley city Tuesday night that they want $160 million in public funds to help build the team’s new football stadium adjacent to the Great America amusement park.

Until now, the idea of relocating the San Francisco 49ers to Santa Clara — where the NFL team already has its headquarters — has been filled with promises, but few details. As a result, the Santa Clara City Council — with the exception of Councilman Kevin Moore, who has been actively courting the team — has been reserved in its enthusiasm for the proposal.

The council’s interest has not been totally without investment. In February it approved spending up to $200,000 to study the feasibility of the stadium project.

Before a packed crowd of reporters, supporters and opponents of the plan, 49ers officials told the city’s governing body that the projected cost to build a new 68,000 NFL stadium in Santa Clara is $854 million.

The stadium would be owned by Santa Clara, according to the 49ers’ plan told by 49ers Chief Financial Officer Larry MacNeil, who said the team and the NFL would contribute $363 million.

The rest of the funding would come from a variety of sources, said MacNeil, including $330 million from the sale of such assets as naming rights, founding corporate sponsorships and concession rights, as well as bond money that would be repaid by a ticket tax.

Santa Clara would be left to pick up the remaining $160 million tab as well as the costs of relocating a power substation on the proposed property, estimated to cost between $20 to $30 million.

"There will need to be a public equity investment," said Jeb York, son of John York and special projects manager of the 49ers. "The source of the public investment will be left to the council."

Santa Clara is starting to explore a number of funding possibilities,including using money from the city’s utility reserve fund, putting revenue-generating development on 11 acres of nearby city land, and issuing bonds from the city’s redevelopment agency, Assistant City Manager Ron Garratt said before the meeting.

The team also promised it will assume all potential cost overruns, including inflation, as long as the project remains on track to be completed in time for the 2012 football season.

A request that the council make a decision on the project by July concerned Councilman Dominic Caserta, who asked city staff if the timeline was feasible. City manager Jennifer Sparacino called the schedule "ambitious."

San Francisco fell to back-up plan status in November, when the 49ers declared a proposed stadium project at Candlestick Point unworkable.

The City has since proposed building the stadium at the site of the former Hunters Point Shipyard. Team officials have expressed interest in the proposal, but have also expressed concern about San Francisco’s ability to get the Navy to expedite needed environmental clean up on the polluted Superfund site to make the team’s timeline.

beslinger@examiner.com

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Bonnie Eslinger

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