Proposed 49ers stadium discussed at meetings tonight 

    Santa Clara officials are holding two meetings Tuesday to collect input from the public about an environmental impact report being prepared on the proposed stadium deal for the San Francisco 49ers.

The proposal calls for the construction of a $900 million, 68,000-seat stadium on what is now a parking lot near the intersection of
Tasman Drive and Centennial Boulevard, according to associate planner Jeff Schwilk. 

Also included in the proposal is a new parking garage and relocation of an existing electric substation.

Before moving ahead with the project, the city must prepare an environmental impact report. At two public meetings scheduled for Sept. 2 the city hopes to get input on the stadium project from residents and agencies that will be affected by the proposal, Schwilk said.

City officials originally hoped to negotiate the terms of a proposed deal with the football team in time to place an advisory measure on the November ballot. However, opposition from the company that owns the Great America theme park, located adjacent to the site of the proposed stadium, has complicated negotiations.

Also stalling plans is a gap of more than $50 million between what city officials are willing to contribute to the stadium project and what the team's owners, Denise DeBartolo York and her husband John York, want them to contribute.

Because of the delay, the negotiating deadline has been extended to Feb. 1, 2009, according to Santa Clara Deputy City Manager Carol McCarthy. After the negotiations are finished, a special election will be held for Santa Clara residents to vote on the proposal.

If the environmental impact report is finished before the special election, the vote will be binding, McCarthy said. However, if the report is not finished the vote will be advisory and the City Council will be able to make the decision once the report is completed.

"The City Council has always followed the will of the people," McCarthy said. If the residents of Santa Clara have to vote on an advisory measure, the city council will respect their wishes and vote the same way, she added.

If the matter had been placed on the November ballot, the cost would have been less than $70,000, McCarthy said. A stand-alone special election will cost the city around $626,000.

The environmental impact report hearings will take place at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers, 1500 Warburton Ave.

Bay City News Service

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