Play clock runs low on Niners’ move 

Needing more time to study a proposal to build a new San Francisco 49ers football stadium next to the Great America amusement park, the Santa Clara City Council will consider a motion tonight to spend an additional $185,000 to keep consultants working on the project.

The extended contracts — for consultants offering expertise in such areas as land use, redevelopment law, economic benefits analysis and stadium financing options analysis — would bring the total amount committed by Santa Clara to its feasibility study to $500,000.

"It’s taking longer than anyone anticipated" Santa Clara Deputy City Manager Carol McCarthy said. "There’s a lot of ground to cover."

In February, the council approved $200,000 for the feasibility study, which the 49ers requested be completed by the end of July. In July, the council approved an additional $115,000 for consultants. McCarthy said Santa Clara officials now hope to have the study done by the end of the year.

The contract extension request sends up financial red flags, said former Santa Clara Planning Commissioner Byron Fleck, a San Jose lawyer who has organized more than 500 residents to oppose the stadium proposal.

"We’ve already heard enough to say no," said Fleck, who described the request for added funds as an early cost overrun. "There’s no need for further consultants or study."

Likewise, he said, the amount the city of Santa Clara is expected to contribute to the $854 million stadium — in addition to donating city land — has jumped from the $160 million figure first announced by 49ers officials to $222 million. That amount includes the costs to fulfill requests by the NFL team for Santa Clara to move an electrical substation and build a new parking garage for the stadium.

The plan to relocate the 49ers to Santa Clara began in November, when the 49ers declared a proposed stadium project at Candlestick Point unworkable, due to parking and transportation infrastructure concerns.

San Francisco has since proposed building the stadium at the site of the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Team officials have expressed interest in the proposal as a potential backup plan, but have also expressed concern about San Francisco’s ability to guarantee transportation improvements and complete the environmental clean-up on the polluted site in time to make the team’s goal of getting into a new stadium by 2012.

Future stadium’s location may be left up to voters

San Franciscans will be asked to vote next June on whether The City should build a new stadium for the 49ers at the former Hunters Point shipyard.

To help champion the referendum, The City has enlisted the help of Carmen Policy, the 49ers former chief executive.

"It’s going to be a team effort, but Carmen will play a huge role in the campaign and in general to make sure the stadium project moves forward in the best possible manner," said Jesse Blout, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s deputy chief of staff for economic and development matters.

Santa Clara voters are also likely to be asked if they’d like a 49ers stadium built in their city. Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan said last month that the question of investing public resources in a new stadium "should go to the ballot."

The Santa Clara City Council said it will consider taking the matter to the ballot as soon as the city’s feasibility study is completed. The study may be done by the end of the year, Deputy City Manager Carol McCarthy said.

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Bonnie Eslinger

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