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Levi's Stadium

Levi's Stadium

  Venue Particulars  
Address 4900 Marie P. DeBartolo Way
Santa Clara CA 95052
Official Website
Satellite View
49ers Gear
  Venue Resources  
Hotels, Dining & Deals in San Francisco

  The Facility  
Date Opened 2015
City of Santa Clara
(City of Santa Clara)
Surface Grass
Cost of Construction $1.2 Billion
Stadium Financing $330 Million Subsidy, Remainder by the Team.
Naming Rights Levi Strauss paid $220.3 million for 20 years.
Stadium Architect HNTB
  Other Facts  
Tenants San Francisco 49ers
(NFL) (2015-Future)
Population Base 7,150,000
On Site Parking Unknown
Nearest Airport Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
Retired Numbers ## Eddie DeBartolo Jr.
#HC Bill Walsh
#8 Steve Young
#12 John Brodie
#16 Joe Montana
#34 Joe Perry
#37 Jimmy Johnson
#39 Hugh McElhenny
#42 Ronnie Lott
#70 Charles Krueger
#73 Leo Nomellini
#79 Bob St. Clair
#80 Jerry Rice
#87 Dwight Clark

Championships 1st






Capacity 68,500
Luxury Suites 162 Suites
Club Seats 9,000
  Attendance History  
Season  Total  Capacity Change
1993 501,476 90% 1.4%
1994 516,808 92% 3.1%
1995 518,928 93% 0.4%
1996 438,564 78% -15.5%
1997 501,641 90% 14.4%
1998 537,385 96% 7%
1999 544,231 97% 1.27%
2000 541,960 97.1% -0.4%

2001 2002 2003 2004
539,756 541,593 540,644 518,271

2005 2006 2007 2008
523,426 545,207 544,226 546,103

2009 2010 2011 2012
557,856 488,124 557,856 557,856

2013 2014 2015 2016
557,856 566,192 566,392 561,424

1993-2014 Attendance figures are for Candlestick Park.
2010 Attendance figures are for seven games as the 49ers played in London.

Sources: Mediaventures

Levi's Stadium

Niners bump up game plan for stadium development

Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross
Sunday, October 9, 2005

After years of having their proposed mega-stadium-mall languish in developmental limbo, the San Francisco 49ers are contemplating something much bigger -- an entire Niner Town out at the 'Stick, complete with housing, storefronts and even a hotel.

Niners representatives confirmed that they are looking for a "master developer'' with national credentials to help shape the plan and make it happen.

And while nobody is offering much in the way of details, 49ers spokesman Sam Singer gave us a couple of the bold strokes: a stadium and large mall, and mixed-use development that would include residential housing -- both market-rate and affordable units -- as well as apartments.

"All the mayor's and Supervisor Chris Daly's initiatives would be wrapped into the housing plan they are looking at," Singer said.

In other words, a little something for everyone -- including San Francisco's left wing.

Pressure to ease the city's housing crunch is already bringing a wave of development to the once-forsaken part of town -- particularly at Executive Park, at the entrance to Candlestick from Highway 101, where hundreds of units have been built or are on the drawing board.

If the 49ers do pursue their new-neighborhood plan, it would be a significant shift in strategy from the stadium-mall plan hatched under former owner Eddie DeBartolo, for which city voters narrowly approved a $100 million bond in 1997.

That plan has turned out to be a lot more complicated and costly than its backers ever predicted. Questions about the expense of shoring up the flood-prone landfill at Candlestick, the site's proximity to a state park, skepticism about the viability of a mall attached to a stadium that is used only 10 days a year or so -- all have worked against the idea.

Plus, there's the headache of getting in and out of the area, as anyone who has ever attended a game at Candlestick knows.

So after years of studies and false starts -- and under pressure from Mayor Gavin Newsom to get something done before he faces re-election in 2007 -- team owners Denise DeBartolo York and husband John York assembled a new development team of bankers, lawyers and other experts in recent months to reignite the project.

The first sign that something was afoot came last month when the Niners quietly opted not to renew their exclusive development agreement with Mills Corp. -- the team's sole development partner since the stadium-mall bond campaign eight years ago.

Sources following the deal said the Niners and Mills had been at odds over how revenue from the mall portion of the project would be divided. At the same time, however, they didn't rule out Mills coming back into the picture -- and future meetings are planned.

In the meantime, the 49ers are also talking to the likes of Lennar Corp., developer of the old Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, and Forest City Development, builder of the downtown Bloomingdale's.

As for the time line for a new deal getting done? That remains as elusive as ever.

"We share the mayor's sense of urgency and want to get this done as quickly as possible,'' Singer said. "But it's a very complex process."

The Voters Approve the Stadium Plan

Fourth-Down Conversion For Stadium
49ers not for sale, won't leave S.F.

Edward Epstein, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, September 19, 1998

The 49ers stadium plan is back on track, key figures in the troubled project said yesterday, but there are still no guarantees that the complex will ever be built. After a meeting between National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, 49ers President Larry Thrailkill, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and Board of Supervisors President Barbara Kaufman, there were also repeated pledges that the five-time Super Bowl champions are not for sale and will not move. "Every step that needs to be taken incrementally is leading to the development and building of the stadium,'' Brown said at a news conference after the meeting, which was held in his City Hall office. "Will tomorrow happen? I hope to hell it does, but I'm not guaranteeing it,'' the mayor said. In a brief interview later with The Chronicle, Brown described the hourlong meeting as "painful,'' as he sought explanations for how the team could estimate that a 75,000-seat stadium billed last year as costing $325 million could now carry a $500 million price tag. He said part of the problem is what exactly is included in the stadium's estimated costs. Brown indicated that the team had included such items as new roads and preparing an adjoining site for the mall and entertainment complex planned by Mills Corp. in the stadium package. "Give me a break,'' he said. Brown maintained that such costs should be kept separate. A source close to Brown indicated that the mayor might ask the state next year to pay for new on- and off-ramps from Highway 101 and other roads at the Candlestick Point project. That could cost tens of millions of dollars, the source said. The move might stir opposition because such spending would soak up state transportation funds that otherwise could be allocated to other local projects. The city's chances of getting that money could improve if Brown ally Gray Davis wins the governor's election in November.


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Yesterday's meeting took on a crisislike atmosphere after Thrailkill said two weeks ago that the team's latest estimate was that the new stadium alone would cost about $500 million, not the $325 million promised to San Francisco voters in June 1997 when they approved the plan. The entire stadium-mall project was originally supposed to cost $525 million. Whatever the total, San Francisco's share will be limited to $100 million in lease revenue bonds, with tax receipts from the mall used to cover the city's interest and principal. With a $500 million stadium price tag, Thrailkill said, the project might not proceed. Thrailkill did not speak to Brown until yesterday, an oversight for which he apologized. "I have not done as good a job at communicating with the mayor as I should have. And he and I are going to remedy this,'' Thrailkill said.


From now on, the two will meet at least twice monthly. Thrailkill, who succeeded Carmen Policy as 49ers president and stadium point man in July, said the team will soon hire a top executive solely to oversee the stadium project. Thrailkill also attempted to dispel talk that the team's hesitation about proceeding with the project and front-office turmoil spurred by owner Edward DeBartolo's legal troubles might lead to a sale or a move. "The team is not for sale. The current ownership is committed to the stadium project,'' Thrailkill said. "The San Francisco 49ers are committed to being in San Francisco,'' he said. "We're committed to building a stadium for $325 million at Candlestick Point. We committed to the mayor that we will work diligently with the city to get that accomplished.'' Tagliabue said the 49ers would have to take the stadium project "one step at a time. That's what has to happen here, with these project cost estimates.''


Tagliabue also criticized reporters for questioning the project's numbers. "It doesn't do any good to throw a bunch of numbers around like we're taking an eye exam.'' He advised people to be patient and see how the negotiations turn out. Early next week, the 49ers will give the Brown administration its detailed cost estimates and the voluminous analyses done by a host of construction consultants. Representatives from the team, the NFL and the city will then try to find a way to build the stadium-mall project at the originally projected cost. A preliminary environmental impact review should be issued shortly by the City Planning Department. It could contain more bad news on costs in mitigation measures, such as preventing bay pollution or providing public transit. Project planners can also try to bring down those costs.


Thrailkill said that if the project gets the final go-ahead, he hopes to break ground in October 1999, right after the Giants finish their last season at 3Com Park. The baseball team is moving to its new, privately financed park at China Basin. The old stadium would remain the 49ers' home until the new stadium is finished. Tagliabue reiterated his commitment to the city to play the January 2003 Super Bowl at the new stadium. Thrailkill said, "The stadium we build will be one that you will be proud of,'' with all the modern features, including luxury suites, a stadium club, vast concession stands and lots of rest rooms.

Stadium Model Unveiled
49ers give detailed look at plans for Candlestick Point

Edward Epstein, Chronicle Staff Writer

Hoping to jumpstart a campaign that has yet to capture the public's imagination, the San Francisco 49ers finally unveiled a model of their proposed new stadium yesterday.

The vision is of a 75,000-seat stadium with three main decks and three levels of expensive suites. The stadium will be much more comfortable for fans than 3Com Park, incorporates echoes of San Francisco landmarks and provides something unique in professional sports -- a physical link with the planned 1.7 million square-foot mall next door.

The stadium at Candlestick Point would have a canopy covering much of the upper deck facing the playing field, except in the end zones. Crisscrossing cables, sort of a tribute to the Bay Bridge and the rigging of sailing ships on the bay, would hold up the canopy.

The color of many of the stadium's seats would be International Orange, the same as the Golden Gate Bridge.

Another unique feature would be that the planned new stadium would have no soaring light standards. Instead, high-tech, low-glare lighting -- focusing directly on the field -- would be built right into the canopy, the stadium's designers said yesterday. The canopy could also be used for projection lighting of highlights or team logos.

It was plain as 49ers executives and campaign managers unveiled the design at a St. Francis Hotel press conference that they viewed the long-awaited premiere as a chance to get their lagging campaign for the June 3 election moving.

San Francisco voters will be asked to approve a $100 million lease revenue bond to help finance the $325 million stadium along with a planning measure spurring construction of the entire $525 million stadium and mall complex. The 49ers and their private partners would fi nance $425 million of the project. "We are now even more ready to go,'' said team President Carmen Policy, "because this will energize us to get the job done.''

But the opposition to Propositions D and F was not impressed by yesterday's presentation.

"Questions still remain," said campaign manager Jim Ross. "Where's the financial plan for the mall that shows we'll be able to pay off the $100 million loan for the stadium?'' he asked. Mayor Willie Brown, who has staked his prestige on the passage of Propositions D and F in June, broke away from talks aimed at settling the garbage collectors' strike to view the models -- and say a few words.

"These physical items will be much more persuasive,'' he said, referring to the renderings. "After people get a whiff of this presentation, there's no doubt people will vote yes on D and F.''

The 49ers campaign plans to haul the models around to campaign events, believing that if voters can actually see what they're being asked to vote on, they might be more supportive. The Giants successfully used the same tactic in the 1996 China Basin ballpark campaign.

The football team also hopes that by building in some quirky features to the stadium they can appeal to San Franciscans who like to think of their city and team as things apart from the run of the mill.

For instance, the south end of the proposed stadium would feature a huge football-shaped scoreboard. Seating in the end zone would be limited. Instead, an esplanade would lead to the vast entertainment and shopping complex beyond. On game days, fans could pass freely back and forth.

"We hope to create kind of a Wrigley Field feeling in that end zone,'' said Dan Meis, one of the architects from NBBJ Sports and Entertainment, the young Los Angeles-based firm hired to design the stadium.

"We're thinking of creating a club in the area. Maybe we'll call it 'Third and Three,' '' said Meis. That was the game situation when Joe Montana and Dwight Clark teamed up for The Catch, the miraculous play in 1982.

Meis said designers are also thinking of installing airport-like blinking lights around the stadium. When the 49ers score a touchdown, "They'd go off, down into the mall, down to the bay. Then fireworks would go off.''

Meis and co-designer Ron Turner said they want as few end-zone seats as possible. All seats in the stadium would be wider than those at 3Com -- a minimum of 20 inches vs. 19 inches today -- and there would be lots more knee room.

All but 27,000 of the seats in the new 75,000-seat stadium would be below the upper deck. "We are pushing sideline seating,'' said Meis. "We feel it is better to be a couple of rows higher on the 50- yard line than a few rows lower in the end zone.''

He said that the lower decks would be a little steeper than at 3Com Park, because of design considerations.

Another architectural firm, DIAQ of Boston, is working on the mall design with the Mills Corp., the developer that would manage the mall along with DeBartolo Entertainment and Simon-DeBartolo Inc.

The team hoped for an earthquake of news coverage yesterday, but in a campaign where things often haven't gone quite right, the garbage strike and news of recriminations in Oakland over the bungled financing of the Raiders' return stole some of the thunder.

Brown was asked about the Oakland situation.

"Oakland had to beg, borrow and bribe to get the Raiders to come back,'' said the mayor, who bristles at comparisons between the 49ers and Raiders deals.

"How ill-equipped the Oakland people must have been when they negotiated this vs. the talent that's been demonstrated here,'' he said.

Levi's Stadium


In unveiling their plans for a new stadium at Candlestick Point yesterday, the 49ers and NBBJ Sports and Entertainment presented a roster of facts and figures about the project:

-- 75,000 seats, with three main decks.
-- 200 luxury suites on three levels.
-- All but 27,000 seats would be below the upper deck.
-- In the southern end zone, a broad esplanade would attach the stadium to
the 1.7 million square foot mall beyond. -- A canopy would cover part of the upper deck. The stadium's lights would be built into the canopy.
-- The 1.7 million square-foot mall would include a food court.


TOTAL COST: $525 million, with the stadium costing $325 million and the mall $200 million.

WHAT SAN FRANCISCO VOTERS WILL DECIDE: Proposition D calls for a maximum $100 million lease revenue bond issue to help pay for the stadium. Repayment would come from taxes generated at the mall and stadium and from existing hotel tax revenues.

The 49ers and their partners would finance $425 million of the project.

Proposition F calls for an expedited planning process for the project.

PROJECT BENEFITS: Supporters claim the stadium and 1.7 million square foot mall would create 6,500 permanent jobs and up to 3,000 seasonal jobs. They forecast $400 million in annual sales at the mall.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY: Opponents worry the mall could fizzle, requiring the city to dip into its general fund to pay off the bonds. They also ask why taxpayers are being asked to subsidize the 49ers' rich owner.

August 5, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures

Denise DeBartolo York and her husband John say a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers is needed, but they stopped short of giving unqualified support for the current plan. York has acquired the team from her brother, Edward DeBartolo, after a contentious fight landed the siblings in court.

In an agreement that still must be approved by an Ohio court, York gets the team, three race tracks and the company's name. DeBartolo gets real estate, stock and other holdings along with the resolution of his $94 million debt to the company.

DeBartolo was suspended by the NFL as operator of the team when he was targeted as part of a criminal investigation into a gaming license he acquired in Louisiana. York then took over management. DeBartolo later entered a guilty plea in exchange for testimony and the NFL continued the suspension. York and DeBartolo battled over money DeBartolo reportedly owed the family's company and the team. After trading lawsuits, a judge suggested they work out their problems privately rather than dragging them into court. The deal is a result of those negotiations.

The Yorks have said they are committed to keeping the team in San Francisco and completing the stadium project, but did not insist that it be the same plan originally proposed. York stopped construction on the project shortly after taking over last year when the cost of building supports climbed well above estimates. Since then she has been considering options, including a rumored renovation of 3Com Park where the team now plays and where it has a lease through 2006. The work stoppage also cost the city the 2002 Super Bowl which had been promised once the new stadium was built.

The original plan called for a 72,000-seat stadium to be built adjacent to a 1.4 million square foot shopping and entertainment mall. Voters narrowly approved $100 million in funding as part of the $325 million stadium and $200 million mall project. The team now estimates the total cost of the project to be $725 million.

The city's money would be repaid by taxes generated by the shopping mall, which would have been developed by the Mills Corp. The new stadium is to feature three levels of luxury suites, a private club-seating area and restaurants.

While the 49ers' internal battle may have been resolved, another conflict is shaping up on the public front. As Mayor Willie Brown moves into an election, opponent Clint Reilly has promised to kill the taxpayers' subsidy if elected. Brown has been an avid supporter of the stadium/mall project, but even he does not favor increasing the subsidy to the project.

The proposal was approved in 1997 by voters by a very narrow margin and if the plan changes considerably, including the removal of the mall proposal, it's likely to have to go before voters again. Observers say they expect the stadium to be redesigned and John York confirmed that changes are likely with construction to resume no sooner than next year.

September 23, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures

If the San Francisco 49ers decide to go ahead with plans for a new stadium, the cost will be an estimated $450 million - up by $125 million from the original estimate. The cost does not include an adjacent shopping center which will provide the sales tax revenue the city needs for its $100 million contribution to the project. The mall adds another $200 million to the expense.

Team officials acknowledge the price is well beyond what they expected and what they believe they can afford. The 49ers are continuing to review the project for ways to cut down the cost, including the possibility of renovating 3Com Park where the team now plays. Officials say no decision will be made on the project until the feud between Denise DeBartolo York, who now operates the team, and her bother, Edward DeBartolo Jr, is resolved. DeBartolo is willing to turn control of the team over to his sister, but the two are still working out terms of the deal.

October 7, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures

A state Court of Appeals in California has rejected an initiative petition to repeal a 1997 public vote that approved funds for a new San Francisco 49ers stadium. The court said the petition contained misrepresenatations and supported a lower court decision. The opponents said they would likely appeal the issue to the Supreme Court. The 49ers have stopped work on the project because of excalating costs.

April 6, 2006
Copyright 2006 MediaVentures

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom wants a judge to determine if money approved by voters in 1997 for a new 49er's stadium can be used for a changed stadium plan. A bill in the California legislature would give Newsom the power to ask for the ruling.

If successful, the 49ers could tap into the money, but if not, the team is unlikely to seek another election. A new poll shows only 29% would be in favor of funding a stadium and 30% say they are strongly opposed. Another 23% had no opinion. Observers note the poll had no plan for voters to consider and was simply an indication of their feelings.

Voters narrowly approved the matter before and city officials would like to hold on keep the $100 million without another election. The earlier vote called for a new stadium and shopping mall at Candlestick Point near where the team now plays. Revenue from the shopping center was intended to help pay for the bonds.

Since the election, the team has been taken over by new owners and the mall developer, the Mills Corp., has abandoned the project. The 49ers have made little progress on their stadium plans and have indicated they may prefer to renovate Monster Park rather than build a new venue. The team's lease expires in January and the city would like the team to make a decision on its future by October.

Last year, the 49ers picked Lennar Corp. to be the team's new master developer for a stadium and retail project it planned. The team hopes to have a plan for the Candlestick Park project, which will include housing, in late spring or early summer. City officials say a new stadium could be part of their plans to bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic games.

October 23, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

San Francisco, Calif. - A $2 billion remake of Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and nearby Candlestick Point includes generous incentives to the 49ers to stay in their namesake city. The team is considering plans to move to Santa Clara.

San Francisco voters approved the expenditure in June and city officials are beginning to release plans on how the money would be spent.

The finance plan puts flesh on the bones of a plan approved by 61 percent of voters. It predicts an infusion of $618 million from Lennar and its development partners and an additional $1.4 billion raised mainly through tax-exempt government bonds.

Under the proposal, if the 49ers decide to stay in the city, they would lease the land for $1 a year and receive $100 million from Lennar to help build a stadium at the shipyard.

Some of the finance plan's details are likely to change before it is presented to the Board of Supervisors and other city commissions for approval. It will be presented as part of a binding development contract as early as fall 2009.

City leaders and Lennar have portrayed the project as a means of revitalizing the impoverished southeastern corner of San Francisco and as the best chance for holding onto the 49ers, who want to move to Santa Clara.

Aside from the $100 million from the developers, the 49ers would be responsible for the costs of building, operating and maintaining the stadium. Environmental work would begin on the site next year and construction could be completed by 2013, Lennar has said.

Team spokesperson Lisa Lang said the 49ers had not seen the financial report and that Santa Clara remains the team's first choice for a new home, even though a deal there is not assured. If the 49ers decide against San Francisco, Lennar and the city plan to expand the retail and commercial development component of the new development.

The real estate downturn raised questions about Lennar's ability to complete the project. The past six weeks - as mortgage problems have escalated, banking giants have foundered and credit markets remained tight - have heightened those concerns.

Michael Cohen, director of the city's Office of Economic Development, said Lennar added several equity partners to its development team during the summer, helping to ensure that the project could go forward on schedule. (San Francisco Chronicle)

November 20, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

Officials in Santa Clara, where the 49ers have spent months in financing talks for a new stadium, have begun using the word "cautious" when discussing the project. Two of the city's main sources for funding its proposed share - redevelopment money and revenue from future development near the site - now look questionable.

Though officials for all three teams (A's, 49ers and Quakes) remain optimistic, some economists are less charitable.

"Things have not been this bad since the 1930s," said Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College professor and pointed critic of municipal stadium subsidies. "It's likely to be much more difficult" to build stadiums without hefty public subsidies - subsidies that aren't likely to come.

The ultramodern 49ers stadium sought for Santa Clara will avoid the largest obstacle looming over Wolff's projects: In a tanking real estate market, its funding plan includes not one cent of revenue from residential development.

Rather, the plan relies on private money from team ownership and a hoped-for cash infusion from the National Football League, as well as a still-undetermined subsidy from Santa Clara. The size of that subsidy has been among the main sticking points in talks between the team and city - talks not scheduled to end until February, months after initially planned. The city has held fast to an offer of $136 million, tens of millions lower than the 49ers have requested. Now, amid the stalling economy, even that offer might prove too rich for the city's blood. Santa Clara is re-examining its financial picture, Deputy City Manager Carol McCarthy confirmed. Those findings, expected to be made public within weeks, will then become part of the negotiations.

Among the major factors the city must weigh are the impact of the state's $2 million take-away of redevelopment funds - part of an effort to solve California's own intractable budget woes - and the likelihood the state will take even more money next year as its deficit widens. Repeated grabs of redevelopment cash could limit the city's contribution to a stadium.

The fate of future development near the stadium also is a concern. A big chunk of the city's offer - $65 million raised from bond sales - is based on the assumption that new projects, including a proposed campus for beleaguered Internet firm Yahoo, will eventually lift tax revenue enough to pay those bonds back.

In the meantime, team officials are keeping their focus on future milestones: February, when the formal financing agreement is expected to be ready; fall 2009, when an environmental review of the stadium is scheduled to finish and when voters will probably be asked to weigh in; and 2010, the earliest that shovels would hit dirt.

"It's just too early to tell," said Pete Hillan, a spokesman for the 49ers. "Anytime you think about building something, it's really not real until you have a bid."

So what would happen if any of these stadium proposals really did implode?

The 49ers would find themselves precisely where they are now, playing out their lease in decaying Candlestick Park.

From there, it's less clear. San Francisco has offered to include a new stadium as part of a renewed Hunters Point shipyard, but that plan also relies heavily on residential development and has been pooh-poohed by the 49ers as flawed. The team has said it would consider leaving for another market if a deal can't be hashed out in the Bay Area. (San Jose Mercury News)

December 18, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

Oakland, Calif. - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell offered no hope on the California stadium front during a visit to Oakland Coliseum, despite meet-and-greets with Raiders owner Al Davis, chief executive Amy Trask and assorted members of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Supervisors.

The once-flush NFL no longer has its stadium financing fund, the G3 Program, which franchises could tap for low-cost construction loans. It's a reality Goodell has been preaching for more than a year. Those loans typically were repaid with visiting teams' share of club-seat revenue once the projects were finished.

Goodell reiterated there are no plans - especially in light of the current economic downturn and worldwide credit crisis - to replenish or replace the G3 fund. Which means the league no longer is in the money-lending business.

That's a blow for the 49ers' current stadium project, which must receive NFL funding assistance whether it's located in Santa Clara, San Francisco or Fresno. And because the 49ers posted up long before anyone in the East Bay, it's a virtual death knell to any fantasies that the 42-year-old Oakland Coliseum will be replaced by something resembling a modern facility "First, the G3 fund expired just over a year ago, so that funding is not available right now," Goodell said during a halftime meeting with the media. "Clearly, in this economic environment, it makes building anything more challenging. And we obviously, as you know, have issues on the labor side in which we're trying to look at our labor costs, and the increased risks in building stadiums like this.

"We're probably building a stadium in New York that's going to be about $1.8 billion." The Giants and Jets were proactive enough years ago to tap the G3 Fund for about $300 million to help replace the current Meadowlands facility with a new shared stadium set to open in 2010. Construction began in 2007 and building costs have risen from $1 billion to $1.8 billion in just more than a year.

Other franchises got in line before the lending fund was depleted, well ahead of the California teams. Before it dried, the NFL granted the Cowboys $76.5 million for their new stadium, which opens in Arlington, Texas, next season. The Colts procured $34 million to help construct Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Chiefs also received $42.5 million to help renovate Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium.

What does this mean for the 49ers' proposed stadium project? It means the York family better get creative with financing, because the league office won't step in to help.

The NFL - which recently announced plans to lay off 150 employees between now and the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 - is hunkering down on several fronts. The current worldwide financial meltdown is affecting everything from sponsorship, broadcast partnerships and ticket buying, as well as a possible loss of revenue stream that will result if the owners and players can't agree to extend their Collective Bargaining Agreement once it expires following the 2010 season. Is the NFL concerned that either the 49ers or Raiders might try to bolt to Los Angeles?

"We're worried about the California market in general. If you look at our stadium situations - San Diego is trying to address (its) stadium situation, San Francisco, the Oakland Raiders ... I think collectively we have to try to address these matters on a statewide level as well as in the local communities," Goodell said.

A common stadium facility in the Bay Area would be an ideal long-term solution Goodell said, but given the history between the 49ers and Raiders and their respective fan bases, it's unlikely. (San Francisco Chronicle)

January 15, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Francisco, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers on acknowledged that the battered economy likely will slow down their plans to build a new stadium in Santa Clara, but they dispute reports that they are considering sharing a new home with their cross-bay rival, the Raiders. "Although our opening day target may need to be adjusted as part of the term sheet, the 49ers ownership group continues to remain committed to building a new NFL stadium in Santa Clara and is spending significant resources to make this goal a reality," the team said in a statement. Will the 49ers share the stadium with another professional sports team?

"This is not something we are focused on. If at some point it makes sense to share the stadium with another professional sports team and a workable option emerges, we would be willing to consider it. But that is not our current objective."

Combining resources with the Oakland Raiders - as the New York Jets and Giants have done on a new $1.6 billion stadium - may be the only way for the 49ers to overcome frozen financial markets to fund a new stadium, NFL insiders and sports economists say.

Given the disruption of the bond markets and the 49ers' continuing impasse with the Ohio company that controls the land where the 68,000-seat stadium would be built, the team's plan to begin construction next year for a 2012 opening is almost certainly defunct, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan said the recession could force Santa Clara to pare back its financial investment of up to $136 million in redevelopment money in the project. Considering the dramatic run-up in stadium construction costs in recent years, the 49ers' plan to finance a stadium alone, with a smaller government subsidy than many NFL teams have received for stadiums which cost much less, was always a difficult project.

But the economic collapse of the last six months has pushed that plan to the brink of impossibility - at least temporarily, say investment bankers who have financed NFL stadiums, sports economists who study the league's finances, and NFL team officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The 49ers are contending with many obstacles: the effect of the recession on big corporations that would buy naming rights and luxury suites, uncertainty over the future of the NFL's stadium finance program, and the fact that almost every team outside California has already built a new stadium.

"There is no question that new stadium projects are difficult to accomplish in California and the current economic climate creates new wrinkles that we have to work through," said Lisa Lang, a 49ers spokeswoman. "But we have an ownership group that is spending significant resources each month to make this goal a reality, and we are pushing forward despite the economic factors." The good news, Lang said, is that the 49ers are focused on environmental studies and negotiating a deal with Santa Clara now, and are not yet seeking financing.

"Our hope is that once we begin the financing phase, the credit markets will have recovered and we will be able to finance our project," she said.

But for now, the 49ers face the worst financial climate many stadium experts have ever seen. "Sorry to be so negative, but I wouldn't be sanguine if I was those guys," said Robert Tilliss, chief executive of Inner Circle Sports, a New York investment banker who has worked on numerous stadium deals, including AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Tilliss called the current market for long-term financing of a stadium project "crippled." Raiders CEO Amy Trask declined to comment about the possibility of sharing a stadium with the 49ers, other than to say, "We enjoy our relationship with the 49er organization and wish it the best with its stadium endeavors."

Also looming is a stalemate between the 49ers and Cedar Fair Entertainment, the Ohio amusement park company that owns Great America. Over the past six months, "there's been no progress in that area," Lang said.

A Cedar Fair spokeswoman, Stacy Frole, said the company is still willing to sell its interest in Great America to the 49ers, clearing a path to build the stadium on Great America's main parking lot, but she agreed there has been no significant progress. (San Jose Mercury News, 49ers)

February 26, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Francisco, Calif. - New 49ers president Jed York and his crew are working the corridors of City Hall in what may signal a renewed push to keep the team in San Francisco.

And maybe even bring the Raiders to the party as well.

Among the ideas on the table:
* An $8 million to $10 million upgrade of aged Candlestick Park, to be done within two years - complete with a glassed-in club seating area off the south end zone.
* A much more extensive, $500 million make over of the 'Stick, with new luxury box seating and a new concourse with restaurants and other amenities.
* Or even a brand new, $900 million-plus stadium at the old Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, as the city's Candlestick development plan envisions.

York and company met briefly recently with the mayor's chief development director, Michael Cohen, and hinted that after two years of focusing on building a new stadium in Santa Clara, the Niners were ready to start talking more seriously about their options in San Francisco.

York reportedly has told city officials that the team will have more to say on all three fronts when he meets with Mayor Gavin Newsom next week. That tete-a-tete might thaw the deep freeze that developed between the mayor's office and the team when Jed's dad, John York, was in charge.

In the meantime, the 49ers say the National Football League has asked San Francisco to expand the scope of the proposed Hunters Point stadium to accommodate both the 49ers and the Oakland Raiders, who also are searching for a new home. The NFL has asked Santa Clara to do the same.

The league has made it clear that sharing a site may be the only way to privately finance a new stadium in the Bay Area.

In addition to sitting down with Cohen, Jed York had breakfast with Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and met with both new board President David Chiu and Supervisor Carmen Chu.

And while the team is still hoping to make a deal in Santa Clara, "our main goal is to stay in the San Francisco Bay Area," said Niners spokeswoman Lisa Lang. "The more options to make that happen, the better it is for the team, the fans and the community." (San Francisco Chronicle)

March 5, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Jose, Calif. - In yet another twist to the epic journey to develop the Santa Clara County fairgrounds, newly elected Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. says he will pursue a radical departure from years of planning: wooing an NFL football stadium instead of the residential-retail center that is in the early stages.

Turning the fairgrounds site from a dust bowl into a money-generating community hub is a priority for supervisors, who have only one major piece of land to develop - the 150 acres off Tully Road - as a revenue source for the county's cash-starved social services.

But amid the global recession, the developer selected by the county, Catellus, is now facing hard times, slashing business by as much as one-quarter and halting all new developments.

That's prompted Shirakawa, a former high school football coach and unabashed sports enthusiast, to pursue other options for the property that sits a mile from his home. Shirakawa met with San Francisco 49ers Chief Financial Officer Larry MacNeil and Vice President of Communications Lisa Lang over a carnitas lunch.

The 49ers are wrapping up lengthy negotiations with the city of Santa Clara to build a new stadium close to the Great America amusement park, but Shirakawa's office notes the deal could still fall apart. Such was the case earlier this week, when another stadium-building plan for the Oakland A's baseball team collapsed after lengthy dealings with Fremont city officials.

"Anyone with $1 billion that wants to come into your community, you talk to them," Shirakawa said. "If those negotiations in Santa Clara fall through, I want them to know that Santa Clara County has open arms for them."

Shirakawa, who represents one of the county's most impoverished districts, said if traffic woes were adequately addressed, a football stadium could generate income while creating jobs and even fostering self-esteem in surrounding neighborhoods. Kids look up to sports figures, he noted. Lang said the 49ers' goal is to stay in the Bay Area, and at present the chosen site is Santa Clara. "But in the event that that is not workable, we absolutely want to make sure we have more options to achieve our goal," she said. "So if we can add the fairgrounds as a potential area to consider, then that helps us to move this project forward."

Shirakawa hasn't yet approached the Oakland Raiders, who have been in conversation with the 49ers about a possible shared stadium in Santa Clara, but he did not rule that out.

Shirakawa also said he is concerned that Catellus' parent company, ProLogis, is "under water." In November, Denver-based ProLogis announced a sweeping global workforce and spending reduction of 20 to 25 percent. Referring to "the tough economic climate" that has only become tougher since then, the company announced it was halting all new development, "pending improved market conditions."

Santa Clara County officials are well aware of the dismal state of construction nationwide, but a growing number are beginning to register particular concerns about Catellus. The developer was selected in large part because of its deep pockets and ability - above all other bidders - to finance a project of this magnitude, estimated to exceed $1 billion in costs.

Acting County Executive Gary Graves said he learned last month that the company's Bay Area offices had shrunk and that the county's lead contact there, Aidan Barry, had been laid off.

Barry, a vice president responsible for Northern California, has not been replaced.

Asked whether the halt to future development applied to Santa Clara County, ProLogis spokeswoman Jessica Crow said: "It applies, but it doesn't necessarily apply." Crow said the projects more likely to be affected involved more immediate plans to "invest capital and move dirt." Because Santa Clara County's project is in the early stages, "it's business as usual," she said. (San Jose Mercury News)

March 12, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - In a development that could lower one roadblock to the 49ers' stadium plans in Santa Clara, the Ohio company that owns Great America said it plans to raise cash by selling a number of its properties, including the amusement park adjacent to the stadium site.

The 49ers said they are still talking to Cedar Fair Entertainment about buying the park but are focused first on finalizing a deal with the city of Santa Clara to finance the stadium.

Cedar Fair had vetoed the 49ers' original proposal to build the stadium on Great America's main parking lot on Tasman Drive, one of the biggest obstacles to the 49ers' stadium ambitions in Silicon Valley.

Although the 49ers moved their stadium plan to an overflow lot, Cedar Fair said the stadium would damage Great America's revenue on game days and demanded to be compensated by the team. Sources familiar with the talks said the 49ers had discussed paying the company more than $1 million a year to close Great America on game days.

A publicly traded partnership based in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Fair announced that it would slash the distribution it pays to investors nearly in half and would seek to sell excess land or theme parks in Toronto, Cleveland, Kansas City and Minnesota, as well as continue discussions with the 49ers about the potential sale of Great America.

Cedar Fair first said it would be willing to sell Great America to the 49ers in October 2007.

While team and Cedar Fair officials have met several times, both in Santa Clara and Ohio, no deal appears imminent. Cedar Fair said it would not discuss potential asking prices for its properties, or the timing of those sales.

49ers officials confirmed they are talking to Cedar Fair about buying the park. But the team said it is focused on completing a deal with Santa Clara about the financial contribution, through redevelopment funds and a special tax on area hotels, the city would make to the stadium.

Santa Clara officials and the 49ers continue to meet for negotiating sessions every week, with both sides saying they are making progress. A resolution could still be weeks off - or longer. "Patience is critical in all big deals," 49ers President Jed York said. "We're getting close."

The full project, estimated at $916 million last year before the full brunt of the recession hit - potentially reducing those costs - would also be financed by the NFL, the sale of stadium naming rights and sponsorships, as well as seat licenses bought by fans.

Given the weakness of the economy and the disarray of the credit markets, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been pushing the 49ers and the Raiders to consider sharing a new stadium, along the lines of the venue being built by the New York Giants and New York Jets.

The park's market value is unclear. While Cedar Fair claimed in tax appeals last year that the park was worth about $44 million, the county's assessment appeals board set the park's value at about $104 million. Cedar Fair bought Great America from Paramount Parks in 2006 as part of a package of five parks, in a $1.24 billion transaction. (San Jose Mercury News)

April 2, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers and the city of Santa Clara are on the brink of finalizing a stadium deal.

With terms significantly more favorable to the South Bay city than those discussed last year, both the 49ers ownership and city officials agreed that most negotiating hurdles have been cleared and that a deal is at hand - if Santa Clara voters agree - to build a 68,500-seat stadium that would open for the 2013 NFL season.

The concessions by both sides, which sources familiar with the talks said include the 49ers paying Santa Clara to use city-owned land near Great America for the stadium, and a significantly smaller subsidy from the city's Redevelopment Agency, came through more than a year of steady negotiations. With the nation plunging into a serious recession, the deal appears to have been shaped by the political reality of winning taxpayer financing for a stadium in tough times. It would move the 49ers a big step closer to leaving San Francisco after seven decades and five Super Bowl titles.

"Until we get the deal done, we're not going to confirm any of the things that are out there," 49ers President Jed York said, when asked about the concessions. "But I think we are getting pretty close to getting a deal done."

York, who has been increasingly positive about finalizing a deal with Santa Clara in his public statements in recent weeks, added: "I'd be disappointed if (the City Council vote) wasn't by June."

Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan, who also declined to discuss the concessions in detail until a deal is finalized, said a turning point in the talks came in January. That's when city officials realized that the economic downturn would sap redevelopment agency revenue available for the stadium project, but the 49ers signaled they would accept a smaller stadium subsidy.

"At that point in time, I was fearful it could all fall apart," Mahan said of the talks.

"Realistically, we all knew we were not going to have that kind of money to invest in the project, and they were willing to accept less as a direct investment from the city, and search for ways to still make the project work. I think we are inches away from getting the best possible deal we can get for Santa Clara."

While any deal must be ratified by voters - probably in March 2010 - the good news to the city of Santa Clara includes reduction in the city's subsidy of the project and additional rent payments for use of city land. And the city still must solve the problem of appeasing the owners of the Great America theme park located right next to the proposed stadium.

But Mahan is so confident that a deal is near that she said the City Council could sign off on the outlines of a deal within a week - although a council vote could be several weeks off. The mayor also said a recent negotiating visit by City Manager Jennifer Sparacino to Ohio to meet with the corporate owners of Great America could mean an end to the theme park's opposition to use of its parking lots to build the $900 million stadium.

Last year, when the city entered into negotiations with the 49ers, it proposed allocating $109 million in redevelopment money and hotel tax receipts toward construction of the stadium. The city also would pay to move an electrical substation and to build a parking garage on Tasman Drive previously approved by the voters. But following the economic meltdown, the 49ers have agreed to a significantly smaller contribution from the city, one that would amount to less than $90 million from redevelopment and hotel tax receipts, sources close to the talks said.

In making concessions, the 49ers may be gauging the strength of voter support during a serious recession. The team will now be able to argue to voters that its commitment to the South Bay is so strong it is willing to accept tens of millions of dollars less than the $160 million the 49ers had sought in 2007, and that the contribution by Santa Clara taxpayers would be a smaller percentage than for other contemporary NFL stadium deals.

Mahan predicted voters would support the $900 million project when specifics are revealed. Among the concessions the team has agreed to in principle:

* The 49ers would make a rent payment to the city for the use of city-owned land now leased for Great America's parking lots for the stadium site. The city manager had objected that the original stadium package proposed by the 49ers included no direct payment to the city's general fund.

* The 49ers would agree to cover construction cost overruns through 2013. While the team had already made those guarantees through 2012, the stadium now is not expected to open until the 2013 NFL season.

* While the city would own the stadium, the 49ers would agree to pay for its demolition at the end of its useful life, perhaps 40 years from now.

* The team would agree to cover losses for unprofitable non-NFL events at the stadium.

York said a resolution of talks with Santa Clara appears to be so close that the main factor dictating the timing of a ballot vote is the state-mandated environmental impact report, which he said may not be completed until after November, the next possible date for a ballot vote. State law requires a completed EIR before a binding ballot vote.

"We can go in November," York said of the vote, "but we want to make sure it's a binding ballot." Politically, waiting until 2010 might also be more advantageous for the 49ers, allowing time for an economic recovery to take hold.

It also would allow time for a deal between the 49ers and Cedar Fair to jell — perhaps the team would buy the theme park. Sandusky, Ohio-based Cedar Fair recently announced that it is eager to sell properties across North America to cut its corporate debt. While there were deep questions about how the recession could affect prospects to build an NFL stadium, the downturn may end up strengthening the case Mahan and other proponents make for the project.

The stadium would be one of the biggest private construction projects "this county has ever seen," the mayor said. "The initial construction phase is really going to be a boost for the economy, and having the stadium here is going to stimulate things further because I think we will see other development arise because of the stadium location - hotels, restaurants, other entertainment venues, those kind of things." (San Jose Mercury News)

Silicon Valley Meets Notre Dame in Proposed 49ers Stadium Design
By Mike Swift
San Jose Mercury News
June 15, 2009

It would bring more of the regular fans closer to the field, offer "party decks" to watch the game in an outdoor sports bar atmosphere, and feature field-level club seats where high-rollers could see players sprint past onto the turf.

There would be a half-acre of solar panels, a "green roof" made of living plants, and office space for a Silicon Valley company that wants a high-visibility address. The technology could let fans order food or watch replays through their smart phones, and the open, "airy" construction would be unlike the retro brick ballparks and metallic domes that have dominated recent sports architecture.

The new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara is still five years from reality — if it happens at all. But in the two years that the city and the team were figuring out how to finance the $937 million project, a building that tries to blend a Northern California tech/environmental ethic with a classic football experience has been taking shape on architects' computers.

One way to think about the evolving stadium design, as described by architects with HNTB, the Kansas City firm designing the 49ers stadium, is Silicon Valley meets Notre Dame football.

"From the very beginning working with the Yorks, they had some different ideas," said Tim Cahill, the national director of design for HNTB. "There was never really a lot of discussion of, 'I have to have this many luxury suites to make this amount of money.' It was about increasing the fan experience of every fan, and giving them a lot of options."

Given that 49ers President Jed York and his father John York attended Notre Dame, it's not surprising the owners asked HNTB to evoke the "ambience" of the Fighting Irish's iconic college stadium. The result was a lower seating bowl that would hold most of the Santa Clara stadium's 68,500 seats.

But the architects say the stadium, a project already registered with the U.S. Green Building Council, would be a creature of Silicon Valley. The team expects to present its design at a July 14 City Council meeting.

The Yorks told the architects "to make sure we think about the future; make sure we think about this being the first of a new generation, not the last of a past generation of stadiums," said Joe Diesko, project director for HNTB.

The architects say refinement of the structural system allowed them to make the stadium's outer surface more open, by replacing more massive supports with thinner cables and rods.

One of the design's unique features is that most of the 170 or so luxury suites and 8,000 to 9,000 club seats would be enclosed in an eight-level tower on the west side of the stadium, rather than wrapped around the bowl as in most stadiums. The structure would be topped by solar panels and a plant-covered living roof, similar to the new California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, to help cool the tower.

The stadium also would feature new ways for fans to experience an NFL game. The 49ers are still working out the details for how that would happen, but the team plans to have club seats adjacent to the players' entrance, where fans could watch players take the field at close range. The architects also are working on ways to allow fans in selected stadium sections to go on the field before a game. And if those fans get too rowdy, there will be a cell right there in the stadium for police to lock up scofflaws, said Santa Clara Police Chief Stephen Lodge.

Cisco Systems is among the companies developing technology that would allow a smart phone or other mobile Internet device to be not only the "ticket" that gets a fan into the stadium, but a tool to select customized replays, call up player stats or buy a beer from your seat.

No one knows yet what the state of that fast-changing technology will be in 2014, when the stadium would open if Santa Clara voters approve a public subsidy of $114 million. The 49ers "want, soup to nuts, the connectivity" between fans, concessions and electronic marketing, said Santa Clara Assistant City Manager Ron Garratt.

A modern stadium is all about making more money. Revenue produced by a new stadium typically adds hundreds of millions of dollars to the value of an NFL franchise, and the term sheet approved June 2 by Santa Clara's City Council suggests connections between stadium design and income for both the 49ers and the city.

The city-run stadium authority would get the money from selling rights to name the stadium, but the 49ers kept the right to sell sponsorships of all gates, levels, plazas and concession areas.

Santa Clara also negotiated a moneymaking opportunity that architects said is rare for an NFL stadium — street-level office space.

"It was a way to drive some more revenue to the city," Garratt said. "It will probably be folks who are looking for presence and a recognition factor."

The environmental features, and the availability of indoor spaces to be rented as an annex of the nearby Santa Clara Convention Center, are part of designing a "community-oriented" stadium, the architects said.

"That's appropriate to a civic building," Cahill said, "as opposed to saying it's just a football stadium."

May 21, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - It appears that the San Francisco 49ers and Santa Clara city officials have agreed on terms for a new $900 million stadium. A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for June 2. A public election could be held next year with a possible opening in 2013.

The discussions have taken place behind closed doors, but both sides have indicated that a deal is pending.

The team must also close a deal with Great America about use of parking lots needed for the stadium. The amusement park has previous objected to the plans, but its parent firm has put assets, including Great America, up for sale and may be more willing to bargain.

In general, the 49ers plan to finance much of the roughly $900 million project with stadium revenues, including sale of the stadium's name and seat licenses sold to fans. The city would own the stadium, and would provide a subsidy for its construction. City officials declined to say what the amount of the subsidy will be, but it is expected to be significantly below the $109 million subsidy the two sides were discussing last year and maybe below $90 million.

One sticking point in recent weeks has been the number of police and firefighters needed for NFL games, and especially how to pay for those emergency personnel through stadium revenues.

Among the concessions the team has agreed to include paying rent for the use of city-owned land, to cover construction cost overruns through 2013, and to pay for demolition of the stadium at the end of its useful life.

Reports also say the team accepted surcharges or fees on some stadium events and those revenues will go into a fund to provide a firewall for the city's general fund, should stadium revenues fall short.

June 4, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers and Santa Clara officials have reached an agreement on a new stadium that increases the amount of money the team will invest in the $937 million stadium and reduces the price for taxpayers.

If the plan comes to fruition, the 68,500-seat stadium would open in 2014 adjacent to Great America theme park. The two venues would be part of an expanded entertainment district.

Despite the vote, there are many hurdles that still face the team. The first could be a legal challenge from Cedar Fair, owners of Great America, which asked the city to delay its vote. Cedar Fair has an agreement with the city for park space on land adjacent to the park and it believes the stadium could hinder that.

An environmental report will also be completed this fall just before new city elections, then the public will weigh in on whether it approves of the deal, probably next March.

Before the Santa Clara City Council took its vote, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom urged them not to do it and suggested that the city could spend its money on more worthwhile things.

Newson wants to keep the team in San Francisco as part of the Hunters Point Shipyard development. He also suggested he might sue Santa Clara if the team continues to use San Francisco in its name.

In a significant change from the financial plan the two sides initially studied in 2007, the proposed term sheet promises revenue directly to the city's general fund. It also includes the possibility of the city receiving a refund on a large part of its investment if the stadium lands a second NFL team, such as the Raiders, something city officials described as "a fairly high possibility."

Funding from the team and league would total $493 million, although it has not been disclosed how that expense would be divided.

The public portion - $114 million - will come from a new tax on hotel rooms, redevelopment money and utility funds. A public vote would be required on the issue.

If Santa Clara were successful in luring a second NFL team to share the stadium, the 49ers would return all of the $42 million invested by the city's redevelopment agency.

City officials and the 49ers peg Santa Clara's contribution at $79 million, saying the proposed 2 percent hotel tax could be termed a private contribution, although the city would form the district that would collect it. The term sheet includes language that would appear to insulate city taxpayers from revenue shortfalls or cost overruns in both the stadium's construction or operations - meaning the 49ers and the NFL would be exposed to paying even more than $493 million.

Surcharges levied on stadium tickets would bankroll a $250,000-a-year fund for city parks, libraries and youth and senior programs, and other surcharges are a second potential revenue source for the general fund.

A proposed city stadium authority, a public agency that would build and own the facility, would have to raise enough money through the sale of naming rights, corporate sponsorships, seat licenses and ticket surcharges to finance $330 million, or 35 percent, of the project cost.

Because a majority of the rent Santa Clara's general fund would receive from the stadium is performance-based during the first decade of the 40-year deal, the authority would also have to be successful in booking college football games, international soccer matches, concerts and other non-NFL events. Otherwise, Santa Clara might see only a fraction of the more than $2 million projected return to the general fund in the stadium's first year.

June 18, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers are considering putting an estimated 170 luxury suites and up to 9,000 club seats in an eight-level tower on their proposed stadium's west side.

While the team has not finalized its plans for a new venue, it has begun working on potential designs with HNTB, the team's architects.

In addition to the placement of premium seating, the 49ers have also set a goal of equipping the venue with solar panels and possibly a green, plant-covered roof.

The team is also looking at new technologies for the venue, including electronic ticketing.

Some teams have been exploring the option, to be used in conjunction with cell phones, as a way of controlling after-market ticket sales.

The 49ers are still working with the city on final plans for the $937 million stadium. A public vote will likely be necessary. Opening day is not expected for about five years.

July 16, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers have released preliminary designs by HNTB Architecture for the new 68,500-seat stadium the team hopes to build in Santa Clara. Whether the $937 million project goes forward depends on the decision Santa Clara voters make in early 2010. One of the unique aspects of the stadium is its roof-top solar panels and a "vegetated” roof of California native plants. The plans include the use of recycled water and a program to have more than a quarter of fans arrive on public transportation.

The council has approved up to $600,000 in legal fees, and up to $250,000 for economic consulting fees as talks about a detailed development agreement continue between the city and the 49ers. The city's redevelopment agency would be reimbursed for those costs.

The stadium is not scheduled to open until 2014, pending approval from Santa Clara voters next year to use $114 million in public money. That opening date gives team officials several years before having to decide on artificial or natural turf, which is one of the issues still undecided.

One of the design's unique features is that most of the 170 or so luxury suites and 8,000 to 9,000 club seats would be enclosed in an eight-level tower on the west side of the stadium, rather than wrapped around the bowl as in most stadiums.

The architects told council members that the stadium is being designed so it would not be a single-purpose building, but instead would incorporate office space for a Silicon Valley company that wants a high-visibility address on Tasman Drive.

The design also includes large terraced stadium entrances that will form amphitheaters open to the public during the week for socializing or small public events.

The architects said the design would also feature one of the largest lower bowls in the NFL, bringing more of the regular fans closer to the field. The latest design would include the ability to add temporary seating to accommodate up to 75,000 people to allow the stadium to host a Super Bowl or World Cup soccer match.

July 30, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Cedar Fair Entertainment says it wants more information on the city's plan to deal with traffic and parking at the site where a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers is planned and suggests it will go to court if its needs are not met.

"Cedar Fair must protect Great America and our substantial investment in that park and we will do that," Richard Kinzel, Cedar Fair CEO, wrote in a letter to the city. "Cedar Fair will also devote the time and resources necessary to thoroughly pursue good faith negotiations with the city and the 49ers in an attempt to resolve the difficulties presented by the stadium proposal in an attempt to avoid the need for a more formal defense of our legal rights."

Santa Clara voters are expected to decide early next year whether up to $114 million in redevelopment financing and hotel tax revenue should be earmarked for the stadium project, allowing the new stadium to be built for the 2014 NFL season. A completed environmental impact report, approved by the City Council, is a prerequisite to the binding vote. That report is due this week.

The city, which receives more than $5 million in revenue each year from leasing the land under Great America to Cedar Fair, wants to resume talks, officials said. They believe the traffic and parking issues can be solved.

The city wants to build the stadium either on the land the amusement park is leasing from the city or on another tract nearby. Either location is expected to impact the amusement park.

August 6, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Santa Clara officials say they are encouraged by the results of an environmental study of a proposed new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers in their community.

The report points out potential problems with noise, traffic and air pollution, but it says there are minimal concerns about how the facility would impact wildlife, local businesses and the nearby Mineta San Jose International Airport, even if the Oakland Raiders decide to share the venue.

Stadium opponents say the report highlights many likely problems including traffic, particularly for a weeknight event. They argue that projections that one in five fans in Silicon Valley would arrive by train, bus or light rail are unrealistic.

The report was assembled by consultants hired and directed by the city, although the 49ers will pay the bill - a price tag that could top $1 million.

Two of the organizations most affected by the report - the 49ers and Cedar Fair Entertainment, the owner of Great America amusement park, - declined to comment, saying it will take awhile to plow through a report that runs thousands of pages.

The release of the report starts a 45-day clock during which the public can submit written comments. Ultimately, Santa Clara's City Council and Planning Commission will hold public meetings on the report.

Among the impacts outlined in the report:

* Air pollution would exceed regional standards.
* Substantial increase in ambient noise due to events 46 times a year.
* On weekdays, substantial increase in traffic at 17 intersections in Santa Clara, San Jose, Sunnyvale and Milpitas about eight times a year due to NFL games, as well as concerts and other events.
* While 19 percent of fans would use transit in Santa Clara compared with just 8 percent who go to 49ers games at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, 49ers games at the new stadium would generate a net increase of 421 tons of carbon dioxide a year.

That is equivalent to the amount of the greenhouse gas emitted by one year of energy use by about 38 homes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Santa Clara Council must approve the report before the issue goes to the voters for a binding decision next year.

August 13, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Francisco, Calif. - California's financial crisis has led the San Francisco 49ers to reportedly agree to pick up $114 million in costs for the team's proposed new $937 million stadium in Santa Clara that would have been paid by state redevelopment funds.

California has cut nearly $2 billion from redevelopment agencies, including money intended for Santa Clara. The city planned to use the money for its investment in the stadium.

Team officials reportedly say they are prepared to put up the cash with the hope of being repaid from future redevelopment monies.

The team hopes to put the stadium project before voters next year with the goal of opening the venue in 2014.

September 10, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The California Assembly has approved a bill that would allow the San Francisco 49ers to select its own contractor to build a proposed new stadium and avoid other state laws that require competitive bidding.

The bill says any public dollars spent on the stadium would still require competitive bidding and will likely be performed by subcontractors, who will do the majority of the construction jobs.

The 49ers organization wants to select its own contractor to oversee stadium construction, because, team officials said, there are only a few in the country qualified to build an NFL-standard stadium. The team has said it will pay any cost overruns.

Santa Clara recently appointed a charter review committee to decide whether to recommend to the City Council that the charter be amended so the stadium would be exempt from a public bidding process - a move that would require a citywide vote. Even if the legislation becomes law, the city could still decide to go forward with a citywide vote.

SB 43 must still go through a Senate committee hearing and a final vote before the Senate before it heads to the governor.

September 17, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Cedar Fair Entertainment has told Santa Clara officials that they don't believe the latest plans for building a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers sufficiently protects them from possible business losses and they could formally oppose the project if an agreement is not reached.

In addition, the letter accuses city officials of failing to disclose the potential additional cost to taxpayers if Great America suffers greater-than-expected financial losses connected to the stadium. Great America leases its property from Santa Clara, providing the city about $5 million in revenue each year.

"Cedar Fair does not believe that the proposed stadium and Great America can coexist without overcoming significant legal and operational issues," attorney Geoffrey Etnire wrote to Santa Clara City Manager Jennifer Sparacino. "However, Cedar Fair will come to the table in good faith to explore possible resolution of this conflict."

In the letter, Cedar Fair officials focus on concerns that the construction of the stadium and shutdowns on game days could deteriorate Great America's business beyond what the team has offered to offset any lost profits, and cut off chances to expand. The letter expresses particular concern if the stadium ultimately houses the Oakland Raiders as well as the 49ers, which has been raised as a possibility and would double the number of game days.

In addition, the letter says the city and team have been proceeding with the stadium proposal despite what Cedar Fair considers unanswered legal questions about the right to build the stadium on Great America's parking lots. The letter raises the prospect of a lawsuit, arguing that building the stadium could violate the terms of the park's lease with the city.

The letter is the latest in Cedar Fair's back-and-forth public posturing over the proposed stadium comes as the city is nearing a crucial point in pushing the deal toward a ballot measure.

The deadline for public comment on the draft environmental impact report released this summer on the stadium is scheduled for Sept. 28, which would set the stage for public hearings in October.

Santa Clara voters are expected some time next year to decide whether to approve as much as $114 million in redevelopment financing and hotel tax revenue for the stadium project, which would be built on Great America parking lots for the 2014 NFL season.

City officials and 49ers representatives downplayed the most recent letter from Cedar Fair, which comes after another missive in July warning the city it wants more information on the impact of the stadium. Cedar Fair officials have expressed various opinions on the stadium proposal in the past two years, ranging from outright opposition to support, as well as indicating the company might be willing to sell the park to the team.

Lisa Lang, spokeswoman for the 49ers, said the team had no comment on the letter, adding that it was a matter between the city and Cedar Fair. However, Lang expressed frustration with the fact that the park owners appeared more interested in sending threats than negotiating.

"Unfortunately, they have declined to participate every step of the way," Lang said. "The team is mystified why Cedar Fair's attorney would choose to send a letter like this instead of pulling up a seat at the table."

October 1, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Cedar Fair Entertainment, owner of the Great America theme park adjacent to where city officials want to build a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers, says it has major concerns about a study done of the project.

The study "wrongly concludes that the project is compatible with surrounding land uses, because (it) fails to acknowledge that the project could have a major adverse impact on operations and attendance at the Great America theme park," wrote Cedar Fair officials.

In addition, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, in a written response to the report, cautioned that far more investigation must be done to evaluate the impact of NFL games on public transit.

VTA officials warned increased demand from stadium events could "require a significant resource allocation beyond the normal levels," making it possible VTA would need funding from a "third party" to pay for increased service and upgrades.

The letters are were sent to Santa Clara planning officials before the deadline for reactions to the draft environmental impact report, a study released in July that outlines how a 68,500-seat stadium will affect surrounding neighborhoods, air quality, habitats and traffic.

Santa Clara will now address the concerns and comments in a final report that must ultimately be approved by the City Council, a crucial hurdle in pushing the stadium plan onto the ballot next year for a citywide vote.

City officials are hoping to get a final version of the environmental impact report to the city planning commission by Thanksgiving, and on to the City Council by Christmas, if all goes well.

Cedar Fair said in its letter that the city's refusal to release many public documents related to the project has made it impossible to fully evaluate the draft study.

Cedar Fair has threatened to sue to obtain those records, as well as warning recently that it might oppose the stadium deal altogether if the city and team don't address its concerns about the impact on Great America.

Meanwhile, the VTA, in its letter to Santa Clara, said the project "offers an excellent opportunity" to build on existing public transit in the area. But the VTA also said the study didn't explore all possible ways fans would use light rail in the area on game days, and a "rail operating plan" is necessary.

The letter also pointed out the study doesn't adequately address public transit for fans coming from Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, a particular issue if the Oakland Raiders also wind up in the stadium.

October 15, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

The San Francisco 49ers were given a gift by the state with the approval and signing of a bill that would allow the team to handle bidding on a new stadium proposed for Santa Clara. State law would require the city to take competitive bids. The law allows the team to select a construction firm on its own since it is responsible for cost overruns. The bill allows Santa Clara to give permission to the team to pick its own contractor. City officials say they'll also allow voters to decide if they want the stadium at all.

October 29, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The Santa Clara City Council has voted to allow the San Francisco 49ers to pick its own construction firm without formal bidding if voters agree to support the project next year.

The vote was necessary after the California legislature approved a measure to exempt the project from bidding. The city still had the final say on whether bids would be required.

The 49ers have maintained that it's imperative the team select its own general contractor to build the stadium because only a few firms in the country specialize in such projects. The team, meanwhile, has committed to pay any construction cost overruns.

Under Santa Clara's charter, virtually any city building project must go through open competitive bidding, with the job going to the lowest responsible bidder.

Most of the work on the stadium is expected to be performed and competitively bid by subcontractors. The 49ers have been working with a joint venture of Turner Construction of New York and Devcon Construction of Milpitas. HNTB, a Missouri architectural design firm, designed the project.

November 19, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The Santa Clara City Council is expected to decide Dec. 8 whether to ask voters if they should help finance a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers. This week the city's planning commission began working through a large environmental report. If the work takes longer than expected, the City Council vote could be delayed until Dec. 15.

The report identifies a host of issues, including nearly 20,000 cars pouring into the area on game days and the likelihood there would be some fallout in terms of traffic congestion, noise, air pollution and parking frustrations. A city planning staff report projects 40 large events overall per year at the stadium, including NFL games, concerts and other events.

The staff report identified several unavoidable impacts in a "worst case scenario," such as a "substantial increase in ambient noise" in nearby neighborhoods during games and a "significant impact" on at least 17 traffic intersections from Sunnyvale to San Jose.

The environmental impact report, however, generally concludes that all of the potential problems are manageable and acceptable trade-offs for approving the $937 million stadium project, which includes a package of public contributions totaling about $114 million.

The report does leave a number of questions unanswered, notably in the public transportation and parking areas, which city officials concede will remain speculative until the true measure of an NFL game on the Silicon Valley city can be evaluated in the future.

December 10, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The owners of the Great America theme park adjacent to where the San Francisco 49ers want to build a new 68,500-seat stadium have gone to court to block the deal between the team and Santa Clara saying it threaten's the park's rights.

In an effort avoid Cedar Fair's lawsuit, a group of citizens that support the stadium, backed by the 49ers, say they will begin an initiative process to put the measure on the ballot in June regardless of what the city or courts decide.

Reports say the strategy eliminates any potential legal challenges under California environmental impact laws, often a source of delay to developments.

The city also wants to put the issue before voters on June 8 and this week it approved the project's environmental impact statement. It will also move forward with its plan to put the issue on the ballot.

Reports say neither side wants two stadium issues on the ballot, but the city could schedule its election in a way not to interfere. City officials say they are willing to do that as long as the ballot language on the referendum meets their needs. In order to put the issue on the June 8 ballot, the city must declare its intentions by March, giving referendum supporters time to gather the 6,000 signatures they need to meet a mid-January deadline.

Cedar Fair, owner of Great America, says the city should not have entered into an agreement with the team earlier this year before the environmental report was presented and accepted.

City officials say the term sheet agreement with the 49ers is nonbinding on the city and called for compliance with environmental impact review laws as the project proceeds.

The term sheet, signed in the spring, sets out a host of conditions for constructing and operating the stadium, which would be built on a large parking lot next to Great America. The agreement provides for a package of $114 million in public contributions, as well as promises from the 49ers to cover any construction overruns on the $937 million project and any operating deficits once the stadium opens in 2014.

In a letter sent to city officials and the 49ers, Cedar Fair's lawyers indicated they are trying to preserve their legal rights as negotiations with the city proceed. The park's owners have repeatedly warned that the potential impact on the park's business has not been taken into account and have asked the council to postpone consideration of the environmental impact report for at least another 30 days.

December 17, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Francisco, Calif. - San Francisco has released new drawings of a planned 69,000-seat stadium to host the 49ers at Candlestick Park/Hunters Point Shipyard. The team says it's happy with the plans it's pursing in Santa Clara.

Carmen Policy, former 49er president and supporter of keeping the National Football League team in San Francisco, described the potential stadium as being situated in what could be "the most stunning NFL venue in the country." He wants the city to be prepared if Santa Clara voters reject a planned $937 million stadium project at California's Great America amusement during a June 8 election.

"We know the 49ers currently are negotiating to build a stadium in Santa Clara, but we need to be prepared to save our team if that does not work out," he said.

Other aspects of the proposed San Francisco development include 1 million square feet of retail, 2.5 million square feet of office space, 10,500 housing units and recreational facilities within walking distance of the new stadium.

Lennar Urban, the project developer, has agreed to contribute the land, infrastructure and $100 million toward completion of the project.

Meanwhile, Santa Clara is supporting a referendum effort to put the stadium issue on the June 8 ballot and NBC Sports says it has a league source that says the NFL wants to put the 49ers in a stadium to be shared with the Raiders.

The citizen effort is backed by the 49ers and is intended to bypass a lawsuit filed by Cedar Fair Entertainment which is concerned that the new stadium could harm its Great America amusement park. The stadium is planned for land adjacent to the park.

But even that challenge is in flux. This week Apollo Global Management agreed to buy Cedar Fair for $2.4 billion as its stock dropped from $11.15 in mid-September to $6.10 in November. Apollo will pay $11.50 per share for the company. It's not known whether the new owner will continue the lawsuit.

Cedar Fair's heavy debt load has been a source of worry for the company's equity investors. Crushing debt pushed one of the firm's rivals, Six Flags Inc., to file for bankruptcy protection in June.

Besides Knott's Berry Farm, Cedar Fair's 11 parks include Cedar Point in Ohio, and Kings Dominion in Virginia. It also owns seven water parks and five hotels.

In Santa Clara, the citizen group must gather 6,000 valid signatures by mid-January to qualify for the ballot. If it fails, the city has until March to schedule its election, but that could be subject to court rulings.

The terms of the agreement between the city and the team provide for a package of $114 million in public contributions, as well as promises from the 49ers to cover any construction overruns on the project and any operating deficits once the stadium opens in 2014.

The language in the initiative makes a reference to the $114 million, disclosing a proposed tax on the city's eight hotels that goes toward stadium construction, $40 million in redevelopment agency money and $20 million to relocate a city utility substation.

December 24, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

San Francisco, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers are focused on building a new stadium in Santa Clara, but if that fell through, they say they would consider a shared venue with the Raiders at the site of the Oakland Coliseum.

Team officials also said the Oakland site is preferable to one being promoted by San Francisco because the infrastructure needed to serve the stadium is already in place.

The NFL has quietly been pushing the idea of both local teams playing in one stadium, preferably a plush new one somewhere. Team president Jed York says that while the Niners would consider Oakland as a possible home, the Raiders would never play in San Francisco - at least not under current boss Al Davis.

Raiders CEO Amy Trask declined to get into discussion of the San Francisco stadium site, but made it clear that the Raiders are "keeping an open mind” about a shared stadium - especially if it's in Oakland.

One issue for the 49ers in Santa Clara is Cedar Fair, owner of the Great America amusement park. The stadium would require city-owned land now being used by Great America for parking. The city has alternative property for the park, but park officials say they have other concerns.

Cedar Fair was recently sold to Apollo Global Management and that raised speculation that the new firm might be more accommodating, but others say the situation is unlikely to change because the park's management will remain in place.

January 14, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - A plan supported by the San Francisco 49ers to force a public vote on a new stadium in Santa Clara appears on track for success. Supporters turned in more than 8,000 signatures for the referendum. There must be at least 4,640 valid signatures. The county has 30 days to complete the verification.

If verified, the City Council has the choice of whether to put the measure on the ballot during a special election, or wait until the next regular city election in November. If there are 6,970 valid signatures, or 15 percent of the registered voters, then the measure automatically gets put on the June 8 special election ballot, where all that's required is a simple majority to pass.

If the citizen petition fails to qualify for the ballot, the council has the power to place its own stadium measure on the ballot. The deadline to do so is by the March 9 council meeting.

Santa Clara Plays Fair, an anti-stadium group, has urged the City Council to place the stadium project on the ballot, fearing the initiative option to place a measure before voters is the team's way of making an end-run around roadblocks.

The terms of an agreement between the city and the team provide for a package of $114 million in public contributions in connection with the stadium, as well as promises from the 49ers to cover any construction overruns and any operating deficits once the stadium opens in 2014.

To pay for that public funding, the initiative language would include disclosing a proposed tax on the city's eight hotels that goes toward stadium construction, $40 million in redevelopment agency money and $20 million to relocate a city utility substation.

January 28, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The Santa Clara City Clerk's office has verified sufficient signatures on a referendum petition to schedule a public vote on a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers. It will be up to the City Council to schedule the election, but it is expected to be on June 8. A simple majority of voters is needed for the issue to be approved. A citizens group called Santa Clarans for Economic Progress, which works closely with the team, turned in 8,042 signatures Jan. 12 to the City Clerk's Office. The Santa Clara County Registrar's Office took a random sampling of 500 of those ballots, Assistant City Clerk Jennifer Yamaguma said, finding 439 to be valid, which led them to a projection that 7,060 signatures would be valid. The group only needed 6,090 to be valid.

City officials had already said they planned to schedule a public vote on the issue, but the referendum strategy reportedly eliminates any potential legal challenges under California environmental impact laws, often a source of delay to developments.

Meanwhile, the NFL has signaled that it may also want to consider a site in San Francisco that had been rejected by the team.

The league, which the 49ers are counting on to help fund a new stadium, has weighed in on San Francisco's plans to redevelop Candlestick Point and the shuttered Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, where Mayor Gavin Newsom hopes to persuade the team to build a new waterfront stadium.

In a Jan. 12 letter commenting on the environmental review for San Francisco's project, NFL Senior Vice President Neil Glat stressed the importance of four items the league deems "critical to providing access" for football fans: a bridge over Yosemite Slough, a new interchange at Highway 101 and Harney Way, adequate parking near the stadium, and public transit infrastructure improvements.

"We hope that all of the improvements in the current plan, including these specific infrastructure improvements ... remain an integral part of the overall stadium project plan," Glat wrote.

Environmental groups, including Arc Ecology, are threatening to sue to stop the Yosemite Slough bridge, saying it is costly and unnecessary and will harm wildlife.

February 4, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Campaign finance documents show that the San Francisco 49ers have invested more than $350,000 into the effort to put the question of whether to build a new stadium before Santa Clara voters.

The NFL team and its affiliated stadium corporation contributed $100,000 in cash to the political campaign in November and December, and the rest in staff work on the proposed measure during 2009, according to campaign finance documents. The leading stadium opposition group mustered $825 during the same time frame, the reports show.

Santa Clarans for Economic Progress, a group of city civic leaders running the campaign for the 49ers, has qualified an initiative for the June 8 election to seek voter approval of the $937 million stadium project adjacent to Great America theme park. The City Council is expected to approve the final ballot language soon.

In addition to the 49ers, a handful of individuals had contributed a total of less than $1,000 by Dec. 31, a figure certain to jump once the campaign begins in earnest in the coming months.

The campaign finance reports show the stadium backers have spent nearly $400,000, most of that in noncash contributions connected to the team's personnel, to assemble the ballot measure. The largest single expense thus far was $43,000 for a Lafayette law firm that specializes in campaign and election law.

Lisa Lang, spokeswoman for the 49ers, said the team would continue to donate to the campaign "as necessary," with mailers and phone calls to voters among the campaign plans. The team recently opened its campaign headquarters on El Camino Real in Santa Clara in the old Mervyn's shopping center.

February 11, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

A new poll commissioned by KCBS finds 54 percent of Santa Clara residents are opposed to using tax money to help fund a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers. The issue is expected to go before voters in June.

March 4, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - A poll of Santa Clara residents shows that supporters and opponents of a plan to help fund a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers are evenly split at 45 percent. The other 10 percent are undecided.

The poll, taken Feb. 15-16, was conducted and paid for by Lindholm Research of Oregon as part of a long-term research project on Santa Clara County attitudes. It has a seven percentage point margin of error.

The findings are consistent with a Survey USA poll last month, conducted for KPIX, in which only 40 percent of those responding said they favored using city funds for the Niners stadium and 54 percent opposed it.

The stadium plan calls for Santa Clara to contribute $114 million to the project, without adding taxes or raising utility user rates.

Support was significantly greater among voters on the top and bottom ends of the economic ladder. Those earning more than $75,000 a year or less than $30,000 approved of the stadium deal, 56 to 35 percent, while those in between opposed it by almost identical numbers.

The latest phone poll is significant in that respondents were read the actual ballot language, as drafted by the 49ers and their initiative backers. It states that the stadium will require "no new taxes for residents" and that it will help fund "senior, youth, library and recreation" programs.

March 25, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - An opponent of plans to build a new $937 million stadium in Santa Clara for the San Francisco 49ers has filed a lawsuit seeking to remove the referendum from the June 8 ballot.

Deborah Bress filed the lawsuit which claims "The title is exactly as requested by the proponents, Santa Clarans for Economic Progress, which is substantially supported by the San Francisco 49ers," the lawsuit says. Measure J is entitled the "Santa Clara Stadium Taxpayer Protection and Economic Protection Act."

Bress also alleges in the lawsuit that the Santa Clara city attorney's ballot analysis of Measure J is biased and understates the city's expected financial contributions to the proposed stadium.

The analysis states that sources of stadium funding may include up to $40 million in redevelopment funds and $35 million from new hotel taxes.

"The total for Santa Clara as a direct subsidy for the stadium is $114 million, without bond and loan interest," the lawsuit says. "This number should appear in the 'impartial analysis.'"

The lawsuit was reviewed by Santa Clara's city attorney, Deputy City Manager Carol McCarthy said. "The city does not believe that the suit has merit," McCarthy said.

The 49ers have spent nearly $1.4 million in promoting the campaign, according to financial disclosure documents.

From Jan. 1 to mid-March, the 49ers pumped $775,000 in cash into the campaign, cutting the biggest check, for $250,000, on March 4, the documents show. The effort to push Measure J on the June 8 ballot also spent nearly $1 million over the same time period on everything from lawyers and political consultants to polling operations.

Meanwhile, Santa Clara Plays Fair, the group aligned against the stadium project, has raised less than $3,000, according to the group's financial disclosure statement.

Voters in June are being asked to approve the stadium deal, which calls for a package of $114 million in public contributions to the project, including $42 million in redevelopment money, a new parking garage and a special tax on guests at the city's eight hotels. Stadium backers say the project would generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the region if the 49ers are lured to Silicon Valley, while opponents say it puts city coffers at risk.

April 8, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - With the collapse of the planned sale of Cedar Fair Entertainment, Santa Clara and the San Francisco 49ers are unsure of where they stand with the company on details of a proposed stadium for the NFL team.

The stadium, which must still be approved by voters, would use land adjacent to the Great America theme park and Cedar Fair, the park's owner, has said it has concerns about having the venue as a neighbor. When Apollo Global Management said it was interested in buying Cedar Fair, talks stopped.

Cedar Fair has taken no position on Measure J, the Santa Clara measure on the June ballot that would decide the fate of the 49ers $937 million stadium project. With the campaign in full swing, further public criticism from the park's owners, who generate $5 million a year in revenue for Santa Clara, could be a political thorn for the pro-stadium campaign.

Among other things, Cedar Fair argues that the stadium proposal has not taken into account the impact on Great America's business of having a 68,500-seat stadium on one of its parking lots, with NFL games and other events such as concerts taking place on busy park weekends.

Geoffrey Etnire, Cedar Fair's lawyer, said he hopes to meet with city and team officials quickly to address those issues. Cedar Fair officials also have been negotiating since last year with the 49ers on the prospect of the team buying the park if voters approve the stadium project.

Cedar Fair's position on the stadium could be leverage in those sales talks.

"What I'd like to see happen is to see negotiations between the city, 49ers and Cedar Fair proceed and see if we can resolve our differences in the next few weeks," Etnire said, adding that the company's position on Measure J could depend on how those talks develop.

City and team officials say Great America is a crucial partner in the stadium project, and that they are ready to negotiate.

"We're prepared to go forward with conversations with them," said Assistant City Manager Ron Garratt. "We need their cooperation."

In addition to any potential influence from Great America in the political campaign, Cedar Fair is one entity that has the clout to try to put a legal roadblock in the stadium plan. The deadline for filing a lawsuit challenging the environmental impact report on the project is Monday.

Meanwhile, a Santa Clara County judge rejected a legal challenge to the ballot language for Measure J.

After an hourlong hearing, Superior Court Judge Mark Pierce refused to order the city and stadium campaign to rewrite the ballot question or the arguments in favor of the stadium project that are set to appear in the voters' ballot pamphlets.

April 15, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The owners of Great America amusement park, which sits adjacent to a site planned for a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers, have filed a lawsuit saying an environmental impact study done on the project is insufficient.

Cedar Fair Entertainment maintains the environmental review process failed to solve a host of potential problems related to the stadium. The lawsuit alleges that the report violated California environmental laws "in a rush to woo the 49ers to Santa Clara."

The lawsuit revives some of the ongoing tension between Great America's owners and the team and city, dating back to last summer when Cedar Fair sent a series of letters to city officials expressing concern about a failure to address the company's worries about how an NFL stadium would impact park business.

In fact, the lawsuit may be another tactic to jump start negotiations with city and 49ers officials. The legal challenge had to be filed by under California environmental laws, thus Cedar Fair had a deadline to bring the lawsuit to preserve any claim that the report did not comply with those laws. A deal that would have resulted in Cedar Fair being sold collapsed last week.

In a letter to Santa Clara City Manager Jennifer Sparacino, Cedar Fair lawyers said they "believe that these challenges can be addressed, but only through serious, immediate and sustained negotiations between the city, 49ers and Cedar Fair."

Carol McCarthy, a deputy city manager and spokeswoman for the city, said officials are reviewing the lawsuit, but believe the environmental report was "done appropriately and that it is thorough and complete."

The lawsuit will not derail the June 8 election, when Santa Clara residents are set to vote on a ballot measure that would allow the $937 million stadium project to proceed. The 49ers are hoping to make the Great America site their new home in a 68,500-seat stadium that would open for the 2014 season.

If the legal challenge proceeds, it would ask for a court order forcing the city to revisit the environmental review process. The lawsuit contends that the city council signed off on an environmental impact report that did not provide the specifics required to solve problems that include traffic congestion on game days and the potential lack of parking for 49ers fans.

In particular, the lawsuit singles out the potential impact on Great America.

"The project would cause major congestion on roadways near the stadium, including all nearby roadways used by potential visitors to Great America," the lawsuit said.

April 29, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Cedar Fair Entertainment, owner of the Great America theme park, says it wants a reduction on the rent it pays for city land if a plan to build a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers next door is approved by voters in June.

The park now pays a minimum of $5 million in rent. In a letter to the city, Cedar Fair asked that the lease be altered to eliminate the minimum rent and replace it with a performance-based formula that would take into account any negative effects from an NFL stadium, such as being forced to close on game days. The proposed 68,500-seat stadium would be built on a parking lot adjacent to the theme park.

"If the city wishes to change the circumstances of Great America and take a gamble on an NFL stadium, then the city must be prepared to accept some of the risk that the revenues and profitability of Great America will be reduced," Cedar Fair attorney Geoffrey Etnire wrote in the letter.

City officials have depicted Cedar Fair's legal threats as attempts to cut a better deal with Santa Clara and improve its negotiating posture with the 49ers in the event the team decides to buy the park down the line. Mayor Patricia Mahan called the latest letter a "rehash," although she said it "reveals the intention all along to try to get a rent reduction."

Asked whether the city would consider reducing Great America's rent, Mahan replied: "No. We have a contract. A contract is a contract."

The park's owners have already filed two lawsuits over the stadium deal, including one earlier this month challenging the environmental impact report on the project.

Santa Clara residents are slated to vote June 8 on Measure J, which would approve construction of the $937 million stadium, including $114 million in public contributions.

A poll released last weekend found 52 percent of likely voters plan to back the stadium. Thirty-six percent are against the measure, while 11 percent said they were undecided, according to the poll conducted by San Jose State University's Survey and Policy Research Institute.

Although the numbers favor the stadium campaign, the poll also shows that voter turnout could inject unpredictability into the outcome, with the chances of stadium proponents boosted significantly if more residents participate in the election but reduced if turnout is low. And despite a strong belief a new stadium would boost the local economy, nearly two-thirds of those polled nevertheless expressed some worries about its potential costs to city taxpayers.

Illustrating the importance of voter turnout, the poll found that 49 percent of the most reliable voters - those who tend to vote in primary elections - plan to vote yes on the measure. That is still a plurality, but the support is not nearly as strong as the 59 percent approval the measure receives from more occasional voters. The institute polled both primary and general-election voters because of the expectation that a high-profile measure to build a pro sports stadium would generate a higher voter turnout than a typical June ballot.

The poll showed that potential cost to taxpayers was the biggest concern among undecided voters; 39 percent cited that factor for remaining on the fence. Twenty percent of undecided voters cited traffic impacts as their chief concern, while 23 percent had "other" concerns, which include noise, parking and pollution.

May 6, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The NFL dangled the possibility of a Super Bowl in Santa Clara if residents approve a stadium for the 49ers in June.

"The San Francisco 49ers are pleased to have the support of the Super Bowl Advisory Committee, 49ers CEO Jed York said in a statement. The committee said it would support and encourage a Super Bowl bid."

Stadium supporters have been broadly hinting that a Super Bowl would come hand in hand with a new stadium, especially because there hasn't been a Super Bowl in California since the 2003 game in San Diego.

On another front, a California judge dismissed one claim by Cedar Fair, the owner of Great America amusement park, that challenged the city's plan to build the stadium next door.

Superior Court Judge William Elfving rejected the arguments of the theme park that the June 2009 term sheet between the city and the team did not comply with California environmental laws. The judge determined that a non-binding agreement was not yet subject to environmental impact regulations, effectively dismissing a lawsuit filed late last year by Cedar Fair Entertainment.

Cedar Fair, which has been concerned about being cut out of the proposed 49ers stadium project, has another lawsuit pending over the deal. The Great America owners recently filed another challenge to the project, alleging that the massive environmental impact report on the $937 million stadium does not comply with state environmental laws. The judge did not address that case.

Santa Clara residents are slated to vote on June 8.

May 13, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The Santa Clara City Council has given approval to a hotel tax increase that will help fund a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers if voters approve of the issue June 8.

In a 5-2 vote, the council agreed to create a tax district of eight hotels where guests would pay an additional 2 percent tax on the cost of the room, with the extra money going to help pay for the 68,500-seat stadium. That's on top of the current transient occupancy tax of 9.5 percent already levied to guests of any hotel in the city.

Economic reports show the tax would likely generate $35 million, which would go toward the stadium. An additional $79 million of public contributions are earmarked for the project, with the team and the National Football League putting in about $493 million and the Santa Clara Stadium Authority putting in about $330 million.

The hotel owners voted earlier to support the new tax. They each voted per acre of land owned.

June 3, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Voters in Santa Clara will decide next week whether to go along with a plan to build a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers and all indications are that the measure will be approved. But if not, the 49ers have options. San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles area interests are ready and waiting with stadium possibilities for the 49ers if Measure J goes down in Santa Clara, which would be an upset given polls showing a majority of likely voters favor building a $937 million stadium on a parking lot adjacent to Great America theme park.

San Francisco and Oakland officials in particular appear to be vying for the 49ers' attentions, both certain they offer the best locations and financial prospects for a new stadium even if Santa Clara voters approve the stadium measure.

"If this doesn't pass," said former 49ers President Carmen Policy, who is consulting for the developer of a proposed commercial and residential project at San Francisco's Hunters Point that includes a stadium, "they have to look elsewhere. And we are the logical place for them to look."

Advocates of luring the 49ers to Oakland, possibly in a two-team sharing arrangement with the Oakland Raiders, say San Francisco cannot match the East Bay's transit-friendly location. Niners President Jed York has said in recent months that he would consider Oakland as an option if the Santa Clara project falls through, and Raiders CEO Amy Trask has said her franchise could work with the 49ers as both teams try to replace two of the oldest stadiums in the league.

During the campaign, York has made it clear that whether it is Santa Clara or elsewhere in the Bay Area, he does not want to be depicted as a villain to fans, as was the case with Art Modell, who moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in the mid-1990s, or Robert Irsay, who moved the equally beloved Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis in 1984, infamously packing the moving vans in the dark of night to leave town.

As a result, NFL observers consider it unlikely the 49ers would consider the Los Angeles area, where developer Ed Roski has made moves to re-establish a franchise in the City of Industry with a wish list of seven possible NFL teams who need stadiums, including the 49ers. But the option for a proposed $800 million stadium is there.

Levi's Stadium

June 10, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - With nearly 60 percent of the vote, Santa Clara voters supported a plan to build a $937 million stadium for the San Francisco 49ers.

The plan calls for Santa Clara to put up $79 million. Nearby hotels would provide $35 million through a voluntary tax, and the 49ers and the stadium authority would be responsible for the other $823 million. Stadium naming rights, concession agreements and seat licenses were among the anticipated sources for that cash.

The team must now secure hundreds of millions of dollars in financing in tight economic times to break ground in two years on a new home next to the Great America theme park.

The vote came after the football team spent $4 million-plus on a campaign in a city with only 46,000 registered voters. Signs backing the 49ers sprang up in front yards across the community as the team carpet-bombed the city with TV spots, radio ads and campaign mailers.

It was a different story for opponents of the stadium, who managed to collect about $20,000, enough for some yards signs and some campaign handouts for the volunteers who knocked on doors.

The opposition's message was simple: The stadium deal is a financial loser for the city.

The 49ers began planning for the South Bay stadium in 2006, after they broke off negotiations with San Francisco for a replacement for aging Candlestick Park, which lacks the high-priced amenities that can add cash to the team's bottom line.

But the city is going ahead with plans to build a 69,000-seat bayside stadium as part of the Hunters Point shipyard redevelopment project.

August 5, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

The San Francisco 49ers spent close to $5 million to win the election to build a new stadium in Santa Clara, a record-shattering level for a Silicon Valley local political campaign, according to the San Jose Mercury News. In campaign finance reports, the backers of Measure J, the Santa Clara stadium ballot measure, disclosed they spent about $4.5 million this year, after the campaign was fully launched to gain voter approval for a 68,500-seat stadium adjacent to Great America theme park. The stadium backers spent close to $400,000 last year, as they began the push for the $937 million project, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by city residents in the June election. The stadium deal is now moving into another stage, as it must go through a number of other steps before construction becomes a reality. The newspaper said the City Council and team are expected soon to finalize the binding lease and development agreement for the project, which calls for a package of $114 million in public contributions. The city is also in the process of establishing the city-controlled stadium authority, which will operate the stadium and attempt to sell everything from seat licenses to naming rights and concessions deals. The 49ers also must secure financing for the deal, although that is not expected to be in place until some time next year, the newspaper said.

October 21, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

San Francisco, Calif. - Uncertainly over financing has led the San Francisco 49ers to push the planned opening of a new stadium in Santa Clara back by a year, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Team president Jed York told the newspaper that lenders need to see an NFL labor agreement, which would likely boost the prospect of a major investment from the league as well, before committing to financing the $937 million stadium deal. The current collective bargaining agreement expires after this season.

Given the slow pace of the labor talks, York now predicts the stadium is unlikely to meet its target date of 2014.

"The clock is running on that," York said. "Right now, we don't have the economics that allow us to move forward at this point."

York remains confident that the team will be able to secure financing for the project, which calls for a new 68,500-seat stadium to be built on a parking lot adjacent to Great America theme park. Santa Clara voters in June approved the stadium deal, which includes a package of $114 million in public contributions and hundreds of millions of dollars that would be secured through stadium revenues, from luxury boxes to naming rights.

But a large chunk of the nearly $1 billion cost has always been linked to obtaining financing, which some sports economists have said could be difficult in today's economic climate. The 49ers have retained the investment firm Goldman Sachs to secure lenders willing to finance the project.

York acknowledged that prospective lenders want that labor deal in place before committing to the Santa Clara stadium. At the same time, York said negotiations with Santa Clara officials to finalize the terms of the stadium deal, as well as to form the stadium authority to run the stadium, will continue in the event a labor pact is reached quickly.

York also told the Mercury News that while the 49ers remain open to working with the Raiders, the Santa Clara project is still not contingent on a deal with the Raiders. The Santa Clara deal approved by voters allows for a second team to become a tenant in the 49ers stadium.

"It is certainly something we've been open to and we've said that all along," York said. "But at this point, I don't see anything that says we're going to build this stadium together."

The Raiders and East Bay officials have been moving forward with studies on a new stadium development in Oakland.

February 24, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Reports say California's effort to cut back on state money for economic development could endanger plans for a new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara, a stadium for the Chargers in San Diego and a ballpark for the former Portland Beavers in Escondido.

The San Jose Mercury News said Santa Clara officials are telling Brown that without redevelopment funds, city leaders say they have no other public money to tap for the project, which city voters approved in June under the promise the city wouldn't use money from its general fund.

"The state's raid on local redevelopment agencies is a terrible thing," Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews, told the newspaper.

As a proactive measure, the City Council put official language into the stadium deal, effectively etching in stone that leaders had been crafting the proposal long before Brown began looking at disbanding redevelopment agencies.

"We wanted to be clear in our language that this has been planned out and under way for a long time," acting assistant city manager Carol McCarthy, told the Mercury News. "We've been working on this for four years."

Shortly after he took office, Brown proposed doing away with redevelopment agencies across the state and funneling that money to schools and local governments.

At issue specifically for the upcoming 49ers stadium project is up to $40 million that the Santa Clara Redevelopment Agency has previously committed – and voters approved spending in June.

Similarly, 49ers spokeswoman Lisa Lang said the team has no Plan B.

"The voters voted on it," Lang said. "That money is an important part of the project ..."

Lang also noted that of the approximately $40 million, the 49ers have guaranteed a $17 million advance to the Redevelopment Agency portion of the project.

But if redevelopment agencies disappear, Lang said: "The team would have to figure out how to address the gap. But we're not there yet."

Further south, Brown's efforts have caught the attention of San Diego area officials.

The Los Angeles Times says Browns efforts could scuttle plans for a minor-league baseball park in Escondido and a new Chargers stadium in downtown San Diego.

Escondido wants to build a ballpark so San Diego Padres co-owner Jeff Moorad to transfer the Portland Beavers farm team to the northern San Diego suburb. The City Council had tentatively approved using $50 million in redevelopment funds. The team has left Portland and will play its upcoming season in Tucson.

City Manager Clay Phillips told the Times the council believes that a ballpark and a Triple-A team could be an economic boost to the city and could encourage other businesses - restaurants and nightspots, for example - to move nearby.

"Without a redevelopment agency, it can't happen," he said.

In San Diego, use of redevelopment funds was seen as a last-chance to build a downtown venue to replace the city-owned Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley. To make such a deal possible, San Diego legislators stealthily pushed a bill through the state Legislature last session lifting a cap on redevelopment spending.

The Times said the San Diego idea is not as close to fruition as the Escondido plan.

In San Diego, one plan would involve using several hundred million dollars in redevelopment funds that, in tandem with the Chargers' contribution, would build a Super Bowl-worthy stadium near the Padres' Petco Park.

On a list of redevelopment projects kept by the Centre City Development Corp., the environmental cleanup alone has been estimated at $150 million.

Without a new stadium, the chances increase that the Chargers will leave San Diego, possibly after the 2011 season. Qualcomm was built in 1967 and is one of oldest stadiums in the NFL.

Elimination of the city's redevelopment agency, Chargers official Mark Fabiani told the newspaper, would "make the downtown San Diego stadium idea nearly impossible to implement."

"You never want to say never in the stadium building business, but it's very, very hard to see how something could work downtown without a redevelopment agency," he said.

Even if redevelopment funds were available, getting San Diego voters to approve a stadium deal would be difficult. Mayor Jerry Sanders has said he would like to see a plan put before voters in 2012, the last year of his second term.

March 10, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The city of Santa Clara this week took steps to keep millions of redevelopment dollars, including money earmarked for a new 49ers stadium, from state officials eyeing it to help close the state's massive budget gap, the Sacramento Bee said.

The Santa Clara City Council called a special meeting to transfer $140 million plus 178 acres of property from its redevelopment agency into city-controlled coffers. The council voted 6-0 in favor.

"We have no funds now in our redevelopment coffers that can be taken," Mayor Jamie Matthews said.

That redevelopment money had been earmarked for an array of projects, the most high-profile being the 49ers' $937 million stadium that is planned to open in 2015.

In June, Santa Clara voters gave the go-ahead to build the 68,500-seat facility on a city-owned parking lot adjacent to the 49ers' training facility. The city has agreed to provide $114 million toward the project, including $40 million in redevelopment dollars.

Part of Gov. Jerry Brown's budget-balancing proposal calls for eliminating the 425 redevelopment agencies across the state and shifting the billions of tax dollars collected by them to school districts and other local services, the newspaper said.

Santa Clara is one of several California cities that have acted to hold onto their redevelopment money. A provision in the budget will attempt to prevent cities from protecting those funds.

Last month, 49ers president Jed York said he didn't want to lose the redevelopment portion of the stadium funding, but that the project didn't depend on it.

"We're looking at alternative plans if that goes away," he said.

March 24, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The San Jose Mercury News says Santa Clara has given $4 million in redevelopment funds to the San Francisco 49ers toward a new stadium to keep the state from seizing the money. The team will use the money to begin construction site preparation.

Giving the money directly to the NFL team is the latest idea in what's become a statewide shell game with endangered redevelopment funds. Like other cities around the state, Santa Clara is trying to keep one step ahead of Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to disband California's redevelopment agencies and steer their money to schools and local services.

But in giving the money to a private business – the 49ers – the Mercury News says Santa Clara leaders would be going further than their counterparts elsewhere, most of whom have shifted money to other government accounts or committed it to public projects. The move is arousing the ire of stadium opponents, who point out that the stadium plan is years from becoming reality.

The 49ers will get $4 million now, and can spend up to $36 million more knowing the city would repay the team later when it gets the money through future property tax revenue. Overall, the city has pledged $114 million in voter-approved public money toward the stadium, but nothing from its general fund. The 49ers will use the first chunk of money to relocate utilities, improve access on the site and complete other work necessary before the construction can begin.

If the 49ers don't start building the stadium by the end of 2015, they would be required to return leftover money to the city.

City officials have been scrambling for weeks to protect the redevelopment portion of that total. Initially, they transferred the assets to Santa Clara's newly-formed Stadium Authority, the public agency set up to build, own and operate the $937 million stadium.

But officials later decided that the state might still be able to yank the money from the authority's hands. With a final vote to end redevelopment likely to come soon in Sacramento, the newspaper said they devised the newest plan.

"In order to protect that money, we have to take away one more argument from the state" and move it to a private source, Mayor Jamie Matthews said.

Whether the state will have any recourse against cities like Santa Clara remains to be seen. Gov. Brown has argued that the uses to which he wants to put the money – education and health programs, for example – are far more important to needy Californians than redevelopment. "I don't think ... anyone will die" if redevelopment is ended, he said.

May 5, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

A California appeals court has shot down one of the lawsuits the owners of Great America theme park filed over the proposed San Francisco 49ers stadium deal in Santa Clara, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The San Jose-based 6th District Court of Appeal rejected Cedar Fair Entertainment's argument that the nonbinding 2009 term sheet between the city and team did not comply with California environmental laws. The appeals court, however, ruled that such a nonbinding agreement is not subject to environmental impact regulations. The 49ers and city officials expect to produce a final agreement sometime next year. Cedar Fair, which has been concerned about impacts on Great America from the adjacent stadium project, has a second lawsuit pending that directly targets the massive environmental impact report on the stadium. That case is expected to be heard later this year.

June 9, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

San Jose, Calif. - Amidst reports that the price of the San Francisco 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara has risen to nearly $1 billion, the San Jose Mercury News says team and city officials just scrapped the numbers included in the financing plan set in 2009. That plan called for the city's Stadium Authority to raise $330 million by selling the rights to name the stadium and other sponsorships, while the team and league pay $493 million.

Officials told the newspaper they won't know exactly how much each side will contribute until the middle of next year - citing ongoing negotiations – although the 49ers will fund the 15 percent to 25 percent of building costs meant specifically for the team, such as locker rooms and the franchise's hall of fame. The stadium plan still relies on funds from the league, and from revenues raised by the Stadium Authority, but the city's general fund budget can't be tapped for the project - as voters were promised.

49ers' COO Paraag Marathe told the Mercury News the team has already spent $20 million for design work and building a preview center in Santa Clara, where they are selling luxury suites, and have been pleased by the interest from corporations as they gear up to raise the team's share of the money next year. The team has promised to spend another $20 million in the next 12 months.

The newspaper said the cost of the project has increased from $937 million to $987 million, which also includes a parking garage next door and the relocation of a nearby utility substation. 49ers CFO Larry MacNeil said the increase is due to more accurate projections and design changes for the stadium. It's unclear who will pay for the extra costs.

MacNeil noted they won't know the actual cost until they receive contractors' estimates next year, but they're not worried about the price tag soaring even higher. "It's going to be what it's going to be," MacNeil said.

June 16, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Football legend Joe Montana is pitching a luxury hotel project near the site of a planned San Francisco 49ers stadium, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The football star was to appear this week before city officials, but an accident has delayed his appearance. The council will review Montana and his partners' request to lease and develop two city-owned parcels adjacent to the site for the planned 49er stadium.

After Montana appears, the council is expected to vote on the seven-acre project, which will also include an entertainment complex and sports bar.

Montana's project comes before the council one year after voters gave the go-ahead to building a stadium near the Great America theme park.

The new price tag of the 68,500-seat stadium is $50 million more than first proposed - $987 million, the newspaper said.

The hotel plan, pitched by Montana and former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., is not contingent on whether the stadium is built, but Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews told the Mercury News the two are "directly related."

Montana's attorney, Robert Mezzetti II, sent a letter to the city in December 2010, stating that Montana and DeBartolo, along with Connecticut developer Kurt Wittek, wanted to build a luxury hotel, sports bar and entertainment complex on two parcels of city-owned land. The letter requested an 18-month exclusive negotiating agreement to develop two pieces of property to "complement the 49ers stadium" and bring additional revenue to Santa Clara.

There have been no details revealed at this point on what the complex would look like, what it would cost to build and how much the city would charge to lease the land.

Mezzetti said in an interview with the Mercury News that the proposal was still in the early stages and that Montana wanted to appear in person because "it's his deal, and he's excited about the project."

June 23, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Funding that supports construction of a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers will also result in a 10 percent increase in city council members' salaries, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

City Council members, who also act as the stadium authority board, unanimously approved the budget. The seven council members are in line to get $1,440 apiece extra next year for their work on the project, which includes discussing and voting on items related to the stadium during most weekly council meetings. On rare occasions, they'll host special meetings just to discuss the stadium project, the newspaper said.

The stadium-related pay comes on top of the part-time elected officials' annual salary, which in the past year was $9,125 for the six council members and $15,209 for Mayor Jamie Matthews. On top of that, the Mercury News said they also had the chance to earn up to about $2,000 last year by attending various meetings for other city agencies, such as the Housing Authority.

Critics say using stadium funds to bump council members' pay, even by a small amount, sends the wrong message as questions mount over how the city and team will pay for the increasingly pricey project. But council members defended their "very minor" stipends as "standard practice," saying they always get paid when they take on duties that require extra meeting time, the newspaper said.

The first budget for the newly formed Santa Clara Stadium Authority - the city arm in charge of the nearly 70,000-seat project next to Great America - totals $1.5 million for the fiscal year starting on July 1. Tax revenues from properties around the stadium site will provide the fuel to run the stadium authority, which is teaming up with the 49ers to plan, fund and build the $987 million project.

The budget is separate from the big funding plan needed to pay for stadium construction. But it's still crucial, since the city needs the money to complete a financing plan, secure sponsorships, and sign lease and development deals with the team before the two-year construction project can begin in January 2013.

July 7, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The San Jose Mercury News says the San Francisco 49ers have earned $138 million in luxury suite sales. The proposed stadium will have 165 suites.

The money more than doubles the total funding committed so far and puts the team and city about one-fourth of the way toward bankrolling the $987 million project next to Great America, with construction expected to start in January 2013.

In disclosing fundraising figures, 49ers Chief Operating Officer Paraag Marathe told the newspaper it was the "first time we're able to demonstrate to the fans that this is real.

"It validates the confidence we've had in the project all along," Marathe said, "and it shows the tremendous amount of support and confidence that our fans have for this project. One hundred and thirty-eight million is no small number; it lays a pretty big foundation."

Team officials said the buyers have not given permission to disclose their names yet, but a majority of suite owners so far are individuals, along with some companies. Marathe would not tell the Mercury News how much the suites cost or how many have sold, but he noted there are still boxes available. That would leave the average buyer paying close to or even more than $1 million. Marathe also said that most buyers had bought in for "long-term commitments" instead of signing on for just the opening season, set for 2015, putting the average annual price in the high tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

July 14, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Over the objection of the city's top appointed official, the Santa Clara City Council voted to enter exclusive negotiations with 49ers legend Joe Montana, who sought to build a hotel and major commercial project across from the future home of his old team, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Montana's personal appearance at the meeting captivated spectators who crowded into the chambers, with many of them wearing the team's colors of gold and red, snapping photographs on their cellphones and seeking autographs from the football star, who obliged.

"I was across the street for so many years," said Montana, referring to the team's practice facility in Santa Clara. "We think it's a great location."

"The star power and sheer attraction Joe Montana would bring to this project is just invaluable," City Councilwoman Lisa Gillmor told the newspaper. "Do Joe Montana and Eddie DeBartolo belong next to a 49ers stadium? I think they do."

City Manager Jennifer Sparacino had urged the council to deny Montana's request and let everyone bid on the land.

While the part-time council typically relies on Sparacino's recommendations, the Mercury N

ews said Montana's personal pitch was enough to convince council members to approve the deal. "This is an opportunity of a lifetime. It's something we can only dream of," said Mayor Jamie Matthews.

Montana and his business group, which includes former 49ers owner DeBartolo, will have at least 18 months to negotiate a lease with city officials for a seven-acre stretch of land on Tasman Drive. Montana and his team plan to start building a high-end hotel, sports bar and restaurant plaza – a project the council must still approve. The council requested that Montana place a deposit on the project, with details yet to be ironed out.

Montana and the group want to have the project ready when the stadium opens in 2015. But Sparacino said the 49ers have indicated the land is needed for construction staging as the stadium is being built. Montana's group, however, did not see it as an obstacle.

"I think the 49ers will change their mind," said Montana's lawyer Robert Mezzetti.

July 21, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

San Jose, Calif. - San Jose Mercury News reporter Tim Kawakami cites NFL sources saying the proposed collective bargaining agreement with players includes credits for three new stadiums. "The credits are a precursor to the establishment of a loan program. It's not the players doing the loaning, but the CBA had to create a mechanism so that loan money is removed from the percentage split with the players.

"Next, the owners have to decide to actually loan the money, and that's no gimme.

"But now the owners don't have to worry that they'll pay twice - the percentage to the players, then the loan to one of their fellow owners," Kawakami wrote.

The report says the 49ers' venue is not specifically named, so the funds could go to other projects. Minnesota, Los Angeles and Oakland are other areas where stadiums are being considered.

However, the number could be reduced if San Francisco and Oakland agree to share a stadium, as the Jets and Giants have done in New York.

The San Francisco Chronicle says the two teams have had recent meetings to talk about the possibility.

"We've put our teams together," 49ers Chief Executive Jed York told the Chronicle. "It doesn't mean we're going to find the right deal that fits for both teams, but we're certainly going to get a look at those options."

The Raiders appear amenable to a partnership. "We have said repeatedly that we have an open mind with respect to our stadium solution," Raiders chief executive Amy Trask told the newspaper. "An open mind means an open mind as to sharing a facility with the 49ers. I say to Jed regularly that we should have not only an open mind to the sharing of the facility, but to the location of the facility which we might share. And so there are a lot of options for us to consider."

Perhaps the biggest obstacle would be location. The 49ers already have voter approval for a venue in Santa Clara, but funding issues remain. The Raiders have not identified a specific site, but have said they prefer a new stadium at their present site in Oakland. The Raider's lease at the Oakland Coliseum runs through the 2013 season. The 49ers have said a stadium in Santa Clara could be ready by 2015, the Chronicle said.

July 28, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The San Jose Mercury News notes that with the NFL's labor woes finally resolved, the 49ers appear eligible to score an even larger loan from the league than previously thought to build a $1 billion stadium in Santa Clara - and owner Jed York proclaimed that the team doesn't need to partner with the Raiders to make it happen.

The deal reached between the NFL owners and players to end the 41ŕ2-month lockout includes about $150 million a year for teams building new or renovated stadiums over the next decade.

And recognizing California's high cost and political obstacles, the newspaper said the league is giving teams a crack at a bigger share of the league's largesse, in the form of a larger "credit" tied to the money the team itself invests. The 49ers would easily be eligible for more than $100 million and potentially even double or triple that, the Mercury News said. In the past, the league contributed no more than $150 million to a team's stadium construction.

"That's going to be enough for several new stadium projects" around the league, York said. "A significant amount of our investment in the new stadium is going to be from private funds, (so) you would have a large percentage that would go toward that" credit.

For the 49ers, the deal also provides a strong possibility of league financing for a new 68,500-seat stadium planned next to Great America. The lockout had already delayed the project by a year - construction is now slated to start in January 2013 - and raised questions over whether it could get funded.

The 49ers still need to secure three-fourths of the funding needed to build the $987 million project, and York said the team will now venture on a 11ŕ2-year journey to convince the league, banks and sponsors the project is worth funding. The team says it has already sold $138 million in luxury boxes and expects $113 million in public funding.

"A 10-year labor deal makes it so much easier to finance a building and go out and talk to a sponsor," York said, adding that he's now more confident the project will be built in time for the 2015 football season. "The stadium was sort of put on hold because of the labor situation. Now that it's resolved you can turn your attention 100 percent to financing the stadium. I think you're going to see a lot more things come into place."

York, taking a break from his honeymoon, was asked whether he thought the NFL would only give out a loan if the stadium also houses the Raiders.

"No, not at all," York said. "There's more than enough to accommodate several new stadiums being built, so (competition) is not going to be an issue."

The deal provides for a credit for stadium projects of up to 1.5 percent of all league revenues in a year. With the NFL surpassing $9 billion in annual revenues, the 1.5 percent credit would make about $150 million per year in stadium financing available annually through the 2020 season.

The 49ers, Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles would be eligible to borrow from the league up to 75 percent of the private money pledged to build stadiums, while teams outside California would be eligible for 50 percent, York said. In the past, league loans were capped at $150 million as a 50 percent match on private investment, but there was no indication there would be a maximum loan in the new deal.

The 49ers had pledged the team and league would account for $493 million toward the Santa Clara project, but now say those numbers are being reworked, the Mercury News reported.

Teams would need to pay back their stadium loans, with interest, within 15 years. The NFL's 32 owners would vote on each loan on a case-by-case basis.

Meanwhile in San Francisco, proponents of building a stadium deal also believe the NFL agreement is good for them and that they could woo the 49ers to Hunter's Point from Santa Clara. Carmen Policy, a former 49ers president, is now a consultant for Lennar, the company looking to execute the massive redevelopment, told the San Francisco Examiner a new stadium in San Francisco would include a spectacular view of downtown.

"It just makes more sense," Policy said, adding that all the planning hurdles for the site are addressed and the fans of both Bay Area teams would be better served by a site farther north.

Along with a $100 million commitment from Lennar on construction, those so-called planning "entitlements" have been the main selling point by proponents in San Francisco. But the site's downside has long been the difficulty fans have getting to and from that isolated corner of the city, the Examiner said.

August 18, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - After months of trying to keep the state's hands off the millions of tax dollars needed to fund a new 49ers stadium, Santa Clara has finally found the answer - albeit one the San Jose Mercury News says comes with a hefty price tag.

The new plan would allow the city to keep its redevelopment agency after paying the state $11.2 million this year and $2.7 million each year after that.

That should solidify what had been a squishy part of the plan to fund the stadium, but because the state will be taking its cut of the redevelopment agency's proceeds, the city may need more time to pay the 49ers its share of the project, the Mercury News said.

The City Council will "opt in" to the state's new optional redevelopment agency plan. The move allows Santa Clara to hold onto its property tax revenue, much of which is aimed at the stadium, but requires the city to reimburse the state for a share of the income the governor and Legislature are demanding.

The new plan, then, will yield the city less redevelopment money than it used to - but officials say it's better than nothing.

"It's not ideal but to opt in is still the best way to go," Pam Morrison, the administrative analyst to the Santa Clara city manager told the Mercury News. Because "if the redevelopment agency goes away altogether, then it's questionable what we'll be able to do at all."

It's a backup plan, as cities across the state wait for a California Supreme Court ruling on whether the state's plan to charge cities for redevelopment revenues is legal. The court agreed to hear the case and expects to make a ruling by Jan. 15.

Of all the elements of the plan to fund the $987 million stadium next to Great America, perhaps the most confusing and uncertain had been the $40 million portion that city voters approved from the redevelopment agency.

The city already gave the 49ers $4 million from its redevelopment bank account and expected to give the team the rest as the agency collected more tax revenues over the years.

But then Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature killed all redevelopment agencies this summer to divert some of the money that the agencies collect to schools and local governments. The law, however, allows cities to keep their agencies if they reimburse the state for their share of the money, which is exactly what Santa Clara and several other cities such as Cupertino are now doing.

After paying debts for past construction projects, the city has about $5 million in redevelopment revenues left to spend in a typical year. That will shrink by about half after the payment to the state.

"It would be more difficult (but) if we don't opt in, we have absolutely no opportunity to do any redevelopment," Morrison said.

The 49ers said the team would work with the city to figure out a repayment plan.

September 22, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers are going into the theme park business, investing in a $70 million deal to buy the Great America theme park - and bumping out of the way one of its biggest opponents to building its new stadium in Santa Clara: the park's current owner, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Taking control of the roller coasters next door to the planned $1 billion stadium gives the Niners a chance to blend football and thrill rides into one of the Bay Area's biggest attractions.

Jed York, the 49ers president, cheered the deal in a statement, saying it creates "great synergy and collaboration between two of the largest family entertainment destinations in the region."

The team will partner with a San Francisco real estate firm to buy Great America will pay off immediately on one front: eliminating the park's owner, Cedar Fair Entertainment, and its lingering lawsuit to hold up the $1 billion stadium deal.

Santa Clara stadium backers have sparred with the park owners since the 49ers and city officials began negotiating a South Bay stadium deal five years ago.

In a statement, JMA Ventures, the real estate firm heading the Great America purchase, praised the prospect of pairing Great America with the 49ers stadium, a stark departure from public comments by Cedar Fair officials who have expressed concern that an NFL stadium could damage the park's business and create parking headaches for park patrons.

Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews was enthusiastic about the 49ers' role in buying the park, saying it seems like a "natural" to him. "I could see a family having tickets to an NFL game," Matthews said, "and some people in the family going to a football game, and some going to the park."

Matthews wasn't privy to the details of the new park ownership, but told the Mercury News he believed the park would be open on football game days during the season, which ordinarily stretches from August through January. Nowadays, Great America is open during the fall for weekends through October. Cedar Fair had balked on that point, fearing it would suffer lost parking slots on game days.

The 49ers have already expressed hopes of integrating other stadium-friendly businesses in the area, including former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana's plan to build a luxury hotel and restaurant complex nearby.

Cedar Fair, a Sandusky, Ohio-based amusement park operator, bought Great America in 2006, and expects to use the cash from the sale to reduce its debt. Cedar Fair almost sold its amusement park business in 2009 for $2.5 billion, but the deal collapsed.

Santa Clara officials must approve the transfer of the ground lease to VMA, and Matthews hinted the city might consider a rent increase. He vowed there would be no decrease in the park's rent as a result of the sale.

JMA could begin operating the park in the final three months of the year, although, as a real estate company, it could retain an experienced park operator, including Cedar Fair, to continue running Great America. The company, perhaps best known for its Lake Tahoe resorts such as Alpine Meadows and Homewood, says it will keep all of Great America's current employees.

September 29, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Ground won't be broken for the new stadium for more than a year on a parking lot next to the Great America amusement park, but 49ers officials are already in hot pursuit of potential buyers to help fund construction expected to cost nearly $1 billion, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Members of the media were given tours of a full-scale model luxury suite - complete with a pair of flat screen TVs, theater-style seating and porcelain tiles.

A 9-foot "touch wall" created by HP allows potential owners to touch an image of the suite or seat location and see a virtual view of the field from there.

"Anybody who's anybody is going to have one," said Kevin Moore, a Santa Clara city councilman who attended the event, adding that many successful companies already have signed up for suites.

The 49ers promise the suites in the new stadium will be as nice as any in new stadiums across the country. And while the suites at Candlestick have been refurbished since they were built in the early 1960s, many are about half the size of the new ones with barely any entertaining space.

Unlike Candlestick, the suites will be outfitted with designer finishes and full-size refrigerators.

So far, about $173 million worth of suites has been sold since the model opened nearly a year ago, including $40 million worth in the past two months alone. The Mercury News said officials refuse to reveal a price tag on any suite or even hint at a range, but reports say they run from $160,000 per season to $500,000 per season with long-term leases. The nearly 500 square-foot suites come with 16 seats.

October 6, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Santa Clara has declined to release a staff report on how NFL teams around the nation manage security, the San Jose Mercury News said.

An attorney who helped revise the state's open meeting law said the denial violates open meeting laws and that its secrecy is ridiculous because no stadium even exists yet.

But in a letter to this newspaper, interim City Attorney Elizabeth Silver denied a public records request seeking the 38-page "interoffice memorandum" prepared in 2009 by Steve Lodge, the police chief at the time who retired last year. Lodge is earning $100 an hour as a consultant to help the city provide public safety at the future $987 million San Francisco 49ers football stadium when it is slated to open in 2015.

The memorandum, which Lodge presented verbally two years ago to the City Council in a closed-door session, apparently highlights security procedures of stadiums around the country.

Concern over stadium security reached a peak in the Bay Area in late August with an outbreak of violence at Candlestick Park between fans at a 49ers-Raiders exhibition game. Two men were shot in the parking lot, and one man was savagely beaten in a bathroom. A day after the attacks, NFL executives vowed to crack down on drunk fans, limit tailgating, stop booze sales late in the day and sack future annual exhibition games between the two hometown football teams.

In an interview with the Mercury News shortly after the Candlestick melee, Lodge confirmed that a security report existed. However, he said he didn't want to make it public, fearing that the details and logistics of police staffing at stadiums around the country – information that he and his sergeants discovered through travel and interviews – would be harmful to those cities.

The city attorney's letter backs up Lodge. Silver wrote that the document that "assesses the city's police security measures and strategies necessary to provide complete law enforcement services for a proposed stadium" can by law be exempt from disclosure. The city attorney concluded, "in this case, exempt materials are inextricably intertwined with nonexempt materials and therefore no part of the document can be disclosed."

Terry Francke, who founded CalAware, a group dedicated to fostering compliance of the public's right to know, vigorously disputes the city's denial to release this information. Francke also helped revise the Brown Act in 1994, and is an attorney who has headed the California First Amendment Coalition.

Francke said the stadium security report should have never been presented in a closed session.

The only reason a public agency can close its doors regarding security fears is if it can "reasonably assert it is vulnerable to terrorist or criminal acts," he said. And the threats here, are certainly not "armored car heists, prison breaks or other carefully calculated capers," Francke told the newspaper. Rather, he said, they are "spontaneous eruptions of excessive levels of alcohol, testosterone or both."

November 3, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

San Francisco, Calif. - The 49ers are telling Santa Clara officials to expect a financial plan soon for the team's billion-dollar stadium – raising hopes for a groundbreaking on the project by late next year.

"We are hoping to approve (the finances) before the end of the year," City Councilwoman Lisa Gillmor told the San Francisco Chronicle. In fact, the team appears so confident of coming up with the money that it wants to speed things up and shoot for a 2014 opening, instead of the current target of 2015.

"That might be a possibility," Gillmor said.

The newspaper said the real challenge, however, may come in January when the Niners expect to put about 60,000 seat licenses on sale. Prices haven't been set.

November 17, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

The Santa Clara City Council unanimously approved a $10 million project to prepare the site next to Great America for construction of a 49ers football stadium, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The endorsement allows officials to advertise the plans so an outside construction crew can begin working in January, making it the first significant capital investment in the stadium. The work includes moving utilities, installing sidewalks, adding extra parking and other work needed before construction on the stadium can begin.

December 8, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers and Santa Clara announced they have captured all the money needed to build a proposed $1 billion football stadium next to the Great America theme park - what the San Jose Mercury News called the largest and final obstacle needed before construction can start.

"It's like first-and-goal from the 9-yard line," said Ron Garratt, a consultant helping lead the project for the city. "We think we're going to score from here."

The funding deal was spelled out in a development contract that caps two-and-a-half years of closed-door negotiations between city and team leaders and essentially completes a planning process that began when the team announced interest in abandoning San Francisco five years ago.

Goldman Sachs, U.S. Bank and Bank of America have agreed to loan the city and team a combined $850 million to pay for the lion's share of the construction, which could start as soon as next year. But critics are alarmed by a major shift in the funding plan: The city will take on more than twice as much debt as was promised to voters, even though the 49ers vow they won't leave the city holding the bag.

Revenues from the stadium, such as ticket sales, stadium naming rights and the team's rent, are supposed to pay back most of the loans. The rest will come from the NFL, which is expected to chip in $150 million; the city's redevelopment agency, which will contribute $40 million; and a local hotel tax expected to generate $35 million.

"This makes it a reality," said Mayor Jamie Matthews. "For all the people who thought it would be impossible to get financing in this environment, we got three of the biggest banks. Next to the groundbreaking, this is the biggest event."

The price of the 68,500-seat, coliseum-style venue has jumped from $987 million to $1.02 billion, largely because of design tweaks, more refined construction estimates and inflation.

But city and team leaders are betting the stadium will create so much profit that they will be able to pay off the loans in about 25 years using only money generated by the stadium. If their estimates don't pan out, the 49ers would be on the hook to pay the difference through higher rent payments to the city. The team would also fork over any extra construction costs that may come up. The city's general budget can't be touched, according to the deal.

The 49ers are expected to make a significantly higher profit at a new stadium, but the team hasn't released those figures.

"This is not about the profits of the team, it is about securing the future of the franchise in the Bay Area in the long term," said team CFO Larry MacNeil. "Candlestick (Park) is just not a sustainable model for the 49ers."

In addition to the loans, the 49ers will contribute $150 million to building the stadium, largely through luxury suites they have already sold. The final $20 million is expected to come from various revenues expected before construction starts, such as season ticket sales.

The two sides are now so confident in their funding prospects that they are "motivated" to start building the stadium as soon as mid-2012, with a chance it could be completed in 2014. Conservatively, they still expect to start building by January 2013 and open for the 2015 season.

49ers CEO Jed York has already approved the 75-page deal and the City Council is expected to follow suit Dec. 13, cementing a "formal commitment" from both sides.

The plan does not spell out the likelihood of the Raiders also playing games in Santa Clara, as the teams continue to discuss moving in together. If the Raiders joined the project, the city could see millions more in funding from the Oakland team and the NFL.

The deal calls for the 49ers to pay the city about $30 million per year to lease the city-owned land, a large increase from the previous estimate of $5 million.

The team would operate the stadium year-round, and take on operating costs during the six months of the season. The city would pay for the cost to run the stadium during the off-season, and the two entities would split the revenues from non-NFL events such as concerts, which would carry a $4 ticket surcharge. It's still unclear whether they'd charge a tax on NFL games.

The lease would last 40 years, with options to extend the deal an additional 20 years.

The Mercury News said "the financing deal is a far cry from the one voters approved, when they were told the team and NFL would pay about half the cost and the city's stadium arm would pay about one-third."

Officials cited the profitability of the NFL, the team's popularity and the real estate market in Silicon Valley as rationales for the banks to agree to the loan.

December 8, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The company that was poised to sell Santa Clara's Great America amusement park has decided it's going to keep it. And with that news the San Jose Mercury News said Cedar Fair Entertainment Company also announced it would drop its lawsuit against the city of Santa Clara over parking issues the company once said would affect park patrons on game days.

There were no details on the parking solution provided, but according to Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews, the new president of Cedar Fair, Matt Ouimet, a former Disney executive, understands that parking simply won't be an issue, since the theme park is closed during the bulk of the football season. Plus, the city is building a new 1,800-space parking garage across the street to be used by anyone in the convention center area, including park goers.

Matthews said despite their past differences, he's excited Cedar Fair will retain ownership of Great America, a popular destination spot for many summertime guests who love the Drop Tower Scream Zone and Planet Snoopy.

"We have a proven operator," Matthews said, "who knows how to operate a theme park. And we're excited about this synergy, which is no longer adversarial."

JMA Ventures, a real estate firm in San Francisco, announced in mid-September it was buying Great America for $70 million. In that now-defunct deal, the York family of 49ers fame was set to invest in the purchase. That football tie-in was to be a boon for the city and for the future $1 billion 49ers stadium, which is being built next to Great America in the next couple of years.

Jed York, president and CEO of the 49ers, is not part of the Cedar Fair ownership equation, Matthews said. But York was quoted in Cedar Fair's statement regarding the Sandusky, Ohio-based company's retention of Great America.

"The combination of an NFL stadium and a premier amusement park in one location offers tremendous and exciting opportunities for family entertainment," York said. "We are excited to reach an agreement on construction issues and parking that are important to the stadium project."

December 15, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - City Council members, acting as the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, unanimously voted to tap $850 million in loans to begin construction within the next year on a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers, the San Jose Mercury News said.

Despite the elation from the team, city officials and other supporters, the newspaper said the deal isn't done just yet: Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and U.S. Bank won't agree to the loan until the NFL commits to finance at least $150 million to pay for the rest of the $1 billion stadium.

The 49ers are competing for the funds with several teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers and the developers of a proposed stadium in Los Angeles. The amount the team needs would tie an NFL record for stadium financing.

But the 49ers are confident that they will get the league funds then complete the loan deal by the end of April.

In another sign of confidence, a newly released letter from the banks shows the 49ers are targeting a 2014 stadium opening - a year earlier than planned - and will try to break their lease at Candlestick Park after 2013. The team said it has begun talking with San Francisco officials but still faces "a lot of logistical and contractual challenges."

The stadium authority - the separate city agency designed to safeguard the general budget - will be responsible for paying back the $850 million advance plus interest, the largest loan ever for any public agency building an NFL stadium. Officials hope to repay it using income from the stadium, including ticket sales and naming rights, along with city redevelopment agency funds and a local hotel tax. The team has pledged to make up the difference if those revenues fall short.

January 5, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

A grassroots group in Santa Clara is organizing a referendum campaign to reject the 49ers deal to build a stadium, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Santa Clara Plays Fair wants to collect signatures for a ballot measure to reject a contract to develop the $1 billion, 68,500-seat stadium next to the Great America theme park. The City Council recently approved plans to use a $850 million loan commitment to build it. In June 2010, about 60 percent of voters approved a measure to build the stadium. But "they weren't given the facts of the finances on this proposal, and what it's really going to cost the city of Santa Clara and its citizens," said Deborah Bress, a spokeswoman for Santa Clara Plays Fair. To put up the referendum, the group says it needs volunteers, plus more than $10,000 for legal help and printing costs, to ultimately collect 6,000 voters' signatures.

January 12, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Ending a contentious four-year battle over parking for a new 49ers stadium, Great America agreed to allow the team and Santa Clara to build the home field on one of its smaller lots and let fans park next door, according to the San Jose Mercury News. But it's going to cost the local football franchise $12.5 million - and the city will likely lose future revenue, too.

The newspaper said the deal is essentially the last and most significant piece needed to solve a stadium parking puzzle, and finally resolves the theme park's steadfast opposition to giving up its land for stadium construction.

As part of the deal, Cedar Fair, which owns Great America, agreed to drop its long-standing lawsuit that sought to block the $1 billion project. The company will allow the stadium to be built on its overflow parking lot, and will relinquish its main lot to allow fans to park and tailgate between the roller coasters and the field.

Santa Clara, which owns the land under the theme park, has agreed to give up revenue by allowing Great America to keep more theme park profits during boom years. In addition, the city will offer the company a cheaper lease extension that would keep the amusement park open for the next 60 years.

The question of where fans will park when the stadium opens in 2014 or 2015 has long been a major pain for project leaders and a source of concern for project opponents who think fans will clog city streets on game days.

With Cedar Fair's opposition gone, officials say they can begin construction within a year as long as the NFL approves $150 million for the plan. A group of residents strongly opposed to the project is gathering signatures over the next two weeks, however, in an attempt to send the plan back to the ballot box for a second time.

During NFL game days, 49ers fans will have access to the lion's share of the Great America parking lot, which after a renovation is expected to be left with 6,500 to 7,000 spaces. The company and team will split the lot during non-NFL events at the stadium.

The lot would provide about 30 percent of the 19,000 parking spots expected to be available within walking distance of the 68,500-seat stadium. The rest would come from two nearby city garages, Mission College and adjacent businesses, while some fans are expected to ride public transit to the game or carpool.

Under the agreement, starting in the next decade the park could keep its profits until it hits well past $64 million in revenue if Great America makes $10 million in capital improvements. The park, however, has been struggling lately and hasn't hit the revenue benchmark in five years.

What's more, starting in 2039, the city will allow the theme park to extend the lease and pay rent of only $5.7 to $6.3 million annually through 2074, or a smaller increase than anticipated under normal market conditions.

City leaders say the lost revenue will be a worthwhile exchange for the parking rights, noting they'll make money from the parking and that they hope the stadium project as a whole will be a boon for city finances.

Finally, the deal also calls for the 49ers to pay $250,000 in public safety costs to the city immediately, a payment that had been scheduled for opening day.

January 12, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers have started selling club seat packages for its planned venue in Santa Clara, even though construction hasn't started yet and the stadium is not expected to open until 2014 or 2015.

The San Jose Mercury News said fans will have to buy seats up-front, though they'll own them for the life of the stadium. Seat owners will then be able to purchase season tickets for those seats – and have the rights to buy tickets for other events like concerts.

The club seats between the end zones and roughly the 25-yard lines will cost $20,000 to own, while season tickets will cost an additional $3,250, which includes two preseason exhibitions and eight regular season games.

The majority of the other club seats will cost $30,000 up front, plus $3,500 for season tickets. Finally, a few hundred seats in the first few rows at midfield – the coveted top 1 percent of the stadium – will cost a whopping $80,000, with season tickets priced at $3,750. Those tickets come with free food and drink, VIP parking and access to "exclusive" club space. The stadium is estimated to have a total of 9,000 club seats.

The comparable seats at Candlestick Park cost $1,290 to $1,790 per season, though they aren't defined as club seats, the newspaper said.

Al Guido, who is leading the sales campaign for the Legends sales firm, said the team's research shows the average NFL club seat costs $4,500 per season.

"I understand the price point for the club seats won't be for everybody," Guido said. "But there are seats in the building that will fit everybody."

Many fans will have to wait for the cheaper tickets to go on sale. Although it's unknown how much they'll cost, at Candlestick average seats are about half the price of the best seats, while a ticket in the upper reaches costs only a fraction of that.

Fans will first have a right to a seat in the new stadium that compares to their current tickets, though if they want cheaper seats they can wait for those to go on sale and hope there are some available.

To buy tickets in the next two months, they'll need to put down a 10 percent deposit, but can finance the seats over 10 years, with interest starting after the stadium opens. The seat rights can be resold to other fans.

The advance season ticket and seat sales will help Santa Clara and the 49ers pay back the $850 million loan they are taking out to fund the lion's share of the project.

Guido wouldn't say how much they're expecting to raise from ticket sales over the next year, but his firm has already sold $225 million in luxury suites for the stadium.

January 19, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The Santa Clara Stadium Authority's vote on a $850 million construction loan to build the 49ers stadium is not an action that can be brought before voters, according the city attorney.

The San Jose Mercury News said Santa Clara Plays Fair, an anti-stadium group, has been collecting signatures in the hopes of forcing a referendum on the authority's Dec. 13 approval of the loan. The group says it has enough signatures to force a vote.

But City Attorney Ren Nosky declared that vote is not subject to a referendum.

Nosky said the stadium authority's action was merely an "administrative" act to carry out what the voters approved in June 2010, when the majority of citizens gave their thumbs up to building a new 49ers stadium near the Great America theme park. The stadium authority is comprised of the seven council members.

Matters that can be put on a referendum, he said are "legislative acts, when a governmental agency makes a new rule, like approving a new development." But carrying something out that was already approved is simply deemed administrative, according to Nosky.

Deborah Bress, the recipient of Nosky's letter, was upset, and vowed to continue the fight.

"We believe we have the constitutional right to circulate these petitions for a referenda," she said.

Last weekend, her volunteers were stationed at grocery stores and post offices, hurriedly trying to collect 4,480 valid signatures needed for a referendum, which would force the council to re-vote on taking out the loan, or trigger a special election.

Nosky said that he didn't think his letter was going to stop the group.

"We expected them to continue," he said. "But in fairness, we wanted to give them notice of our position."

January 26, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Followings its attorney's advice, the Santa Clara City Council voted against putting plans for a new 49ers stadium before voters again, despite petitions calling for the election, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Opponents and city leaders are deadlocked in heated disagreement over whether it is legal to ask voters a second time to decide the project's fate, leaving both sides to concede the argument is destined for court. To ensure stadium construction stays on track to start later this year, City Attorney Ren Nosky says he wants to bypass a lengthy court battle by filing pre-emptive legal documents in Santa Clara County Superior Court "as soon as possible."

It would cost the city $2.9 million to $4 million to put the project back on the ballot, as soon as June or November, officials said.

At question is the $850 million bank loan civic leaders approved last month to fund most of the $1 billion stadium next to Great America. The argument nearly reached a boiling point during a tense meeting at a packed City Hall.

On one side of the aisle, angry opponents simmered and yelled at council members for "deceiving" them, while stadium supporters blurted back on the other side. The back-and-forth lasted two hours. Fifty-eight percent of voters approved the stadium project in a June 2010 election.

But dozens of opponents showed up in force to complain they were "ripped off." They brought glossy 2010 campaign materials funded by the 49ers that showed the team, NFL and stadium revenues would be responsible for 88 percent of the project's cost.

"That is what this community bought, but that is not what you agreed to last month," stadium opponent Kate Grant said, holding up the campaign flier. "The terms of this agreement have changed dramatically."

In December, the city's Stadium Authority - the public agency that will build and operate the stadium – approved enough bank loans to fund 83 percent of the project. Council members Will Kennedy and Jamie McLeod both agreed voters should have another say on the stadium.

But an equal number of supporters wearing "Santa Clara stadium" shirts rallied behind the project and argued opponents fudged the facts and "outright lied" to convince voters to sign their petitions outside grocery stores, farmers markets and post offices. They accused them of trying to bleed millions of dollars from the city budget for an election while trying to kill a project that could drive economic activity in Santa Clara.

February 2, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

As promised, the civic leaders behind the new San Francisco 49ers stadium in Santa Clara have filed a lawsuit trying to block opponents from putting the project back on the ballot, according to the San Jose Mercury News. City Attorney Ren Nosky filed the 14-page complaint in Santa Clara County Superior Court against the grass-roots group Santa Clara Plays Fair. Officials had vowed legal action after voting to deny the residents' petitions that would have given voters the chance to overturn an $850 million loan for the project. In the legal brief, Nosky argues that because the project was approved by voters as Measure J in June 2010, it cannot be challenged a second time. By filing the suit so quickly, the city beat to the punch project opponents who plan to file their own legal action in an attempt to force the issue onto the ballot. The suit says pursuing the referendum would “cast uncertainty” over Santa Clara's plans to close the bank loan on March 20 and needs to be resolved immediately.

February 9, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

NFL owners allocated $200 million in funding for the future San Francisco 49ers stadium in Santa Clara, a crucial and long-awaited piece in paying for the $1 billion project, according to team owner Jed York. The San Jose Mercury News said York tweeted the news after the NFL owners meeting, saying it was "A big step forward today." There had been speculation the NFL would press the 49ers and Oakland Raiders to share the Santa Clara stadium in order to secure the financing, but York said in an email to the newspaper that there is no link to the $200 million contribution. "We've been asked to keep the communications open," York said.

February 16, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Santa Clara leaders vowed for the first time to open the San Francisco 49ers' new stadium in 2014 - a year earlier than planned - after finalizing a deal with a major construction firm to start building in the next few months.

The San Jose Mercury News said groundbreaking for the South Bay stadium is set for late spring, about six months sooner than the previous estimate of early 2013.

The fast-tracked schedule is the strongest evidence yet that the 49ers intend to play only two more seasons at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. And there are costly consequences if the team doesn't kick off in Santa Clara in 2014: Construction partners Turner-Devcon would face tens of millions of dollars in penalties if the project falls behind.

"We're going to be playing football here in 2014," Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews said. "I have no doubt whatsoever."

The pledge comes just a week after the NFL approved the final $200 million needed to fund the Niners' new home field, which removed the last obstacle before construction could begin.

The deal includes an $878 million construction contract with Turner-Devcon, a partnership of two firms that have been helping to plan the stadium since 2007. It is the largest piece of the overall $1 billion stadium development, which also includes such things as site prep work and a nearby parking garage.

The contract requires Turner-Devcon to start building by July 1 and finish the stadium so it can open by the end of August 2014. If not, the firms would be penalized $6 million for each 49ers game missed, plus daily fines that could hit $20 million.

The penalties are harsh enough that the firms could actually lose money on the deal if they don't finish the project on time. On the other hand, if they complete the stadium in time for the 2014 preseason, the 49ers will reward the firms with a $5 million bonus.

City officials called the $878 million contract a "conservative" estimate they expect to go down. Turner-Devcon will earn 4 percent of the total contract, which, based on the current estimate, would net the firms $35 million. Their fee was the lowest offer received by the 49ers, which called the companies the best qualified.

The 49ers and Santa Clara had been shooting to start construction in January 2013 and open the field for the 2015 season. But after the pair secured $850 million in bank loans in December, the NFL approved the rest of the funding.

March 8, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Ending a last-ditch effort to block the San Francisco 49ers' new stadium, a judge ruled that Santa Clara residents cannot vote on the project a second time, paving the way for construction to begin this spring. The San Jose Mercury News said a grass-roots group of residents trying to stop construction is considering an appeal. The issue stems from the Santa Clara Stadium Authority's approval of $850 million in bank loans to fund the $1 billion stadium. Opponents then gathered more than 4,500 signatures to put the loan on the June ballot, but the city threw out the petitions. Opposition group Santa Clara Plays Fair, asserted that voters deserved another crack at the stadium because the bank loan was never part of the original plan. Santa Clara County Superior Court, Judge Peter Kirwan sided with the 49ers and the city. "The court finds the (bank loans) at issue here are administrative acts not subject to referendum."

March 15, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The price tag for the San Francisco 49ers' new South Bay stadium has jumped to almost $1.2 billion, but the cost to the public appears to be going down, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The new figures, unveiled in the project's final funding plan, include pricey new features added just before the stadium's groundbreaking next to Santa Clara's Great America amusement park: There's up to $50 million to bring fans the latest tech experience.

But that's not the only new expense added to the ledger for a project that has already jumped from $937 million to more recent estimates of $1.02 billion.

The final costs include $78 million in loan interest and fees and more refined construction estimates now that contractors have submitted their bids to build the project that will bring the football franchise to the South Bay in 2014.

So how, then, is the public getting off cheaper?

Partly because fans are expected to buy seat packages faster than anticipated, the new plan says. And, since the state abolished redevelopment agencies, the 49ers have agreed to pay the bulk of the redevelopment tax money that voters approved in 2010 to help fund the stadium. But critics counter it's just an accounting trick, as those sources of revenue have long been known and are only now being counted in light of public outcry.

"It's coming together great," 49ers CFO Larry MacNeil said. "A new stadium is critical to the long-term future of the San Francisco 49ers in the Bay Area, and we are making that a reality."

Meanwhile, the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, the public agency created to build the home field, will carry $655 to $785 million in debt plus interest over three decades to pay for the bulk of the project. That's less than the previous estimate of $850 million plus interest, a record loan that led thousands of residents to sign petitions demanding a new public vote on the stadium.

The loan issue has stirred the pot among stadium skeptics since officials announced in December they would borrow $850 million from three banks to pay for the bulk of the stadium.

Now, however, the team has agreed to changes that will lessen the burden to the public agency. The Niners will pay $30 million of the $40 million previously designated to the city's now-defunct redevelopment agency, which had $10 million left before closing.

What's more, officials say they will sell enough seat licenses and strike a naming rights deal before the stadium opens. Those revenues are expected to reduce the total loan by $162 to $292 million, depending on how sales go.

The plan also includes a 40-year lease between the 49ers and the Stadium Authority, which will own the stadium. The 49ers will pay the agency about $30 million a year, a figure that would go up if the Stadium Authority has trouble paying off the loan.

City Manager Jennifer Sparacino, who doubles as executive director of the Stadium Authority, thinks the agency will be able to pay back the loan while still covering the field's operating costs, especially now that its debt has gone down and rent has gone up.

In addition, she said they have built several safeguards into the deal. First, there's the agreement to increase the team's rent if the Stadium Authority is having trouble paying the loan. Second, the Stadium Authority plans to establish a $10 million reserve after the 2014 opening.

The operating lease is the same as what officials had previously planned, with the team controlling the building during the six months of the season and the public agency taking over during the off-season. The lease, operating budget and other terms were approved this week by the Santa Clara City Council.

The city's general budget, meanwhile, will get $40 million in base rent over the 40 years of the lease and an expected $155 million in profit from non-NFL events.

March 22, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - Wrapping up its construction plans for a new San Francisco 49ers stadium, Santa Clara leaders approved six last-minute deals needed before the project can get under way in coming weeks - including up to $100 million in extra loans.

The San Jose Mercury News said council members voted 6-1 to adopt the items on behalf of the city and the Stadium Authority, the entity created to build the $1.2 billion home field next to Great America. Councilwoman Jamie McLeod, a project critic, was opposed.

In its first action, the Stadium Authority approved the final documents for a bank loan of up to $950 million – more than the prior estimate of $850 million because of increases to the stadium's price tag. However, officials think upcoming revenues such as seat sales will lower the long-term debt to below $700 million.

When the stadium agency takes out the loan, it must pay a $14.625 million bank fee plus $80,000 annually for the next few years.

Officials also approved a parking agreement with the 49ers that gives the team the right to reserve 10,000 parking spots on city-owned land during game days, or about one-fourth of the total stadium parking expected, in exchange for part of the parking revenue. The spaces include a new parking garage under construction next to the stadium, and existing lots in the Convention Center, Hyatt Regency hotel and light rail station.

The Stadium Authority inked a legal "nonrelocation agreement" with the Niners, which requires the team to play its home games in Santa Clara for at least 40 years following the expected opening in 2014. The 49ers can break free of the deal only under extreme circumstances, like if one of every five seats or parking spaces become unusable.

The council extended the Niners' lease for its existing training facility and headquarters, which is across the street from the stadium site, from 2042 to 2074, when the lease for the stadium ends. The 49ers' annual rent to the city for its main office, currently $28,196, would continue to increase 4 percent each year.

Stadium leaders backed a deal to hand the year-round management of the stadium to the 49ers, which will be responsible for handling financial books, hiring employees and booking non-NFL events such as concerts. The authority will pay the team $200,000 in the first year, increasing 3 percent annually, plus booking fees and reimbursement for half its costs. This agreement also allows the public agency to borrow up to $25 million from the 49ers' management company, if needed.

Officials agreed to a deal with the Santa Clara Valley Water District to build three pedestrian bridges over the San Tomas Aquino Creek, which separates Great America and the stadium site. In exchange, the water district, which controls the creek, will get free advertising during games.

April 26, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Santa Clara, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers are pleased with the rate of ticket sales for the team's new stadium, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The most expensive 1,000 seats will cost $375 per game - plus $80,000 for a life-of-the-stadium license to buy that one seat. Those 1,000 seats are nearly sold out.

"It's going extremely well," said Al Guido, vice president of sales and marketing for Legends, the 49ers' stadium marketing firm, when asked about the overall sales picture. He added, "We're really, really pleased with the reaction of season-ticket holders."

Of course, it's still early in the game. Only the choicest 9,000 of the 68,500 seats have been offered to current season-ticket holders, and not all of those seats have been snapped up.

Guido, authorized to speak for the team, said, "Almost 70 percent of the people (who have heard the presentation) have done something, bought club seats or put down a deposit to be placed in line to be able to purchase a reserved seat."

May 10, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

With the new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara possibly up and ready as early as 2014, the San Francisco Chronicle says the Niners are looking for an early out on their deal at Candlestick Park - which runs until 2015. At the same time, however, Niners also want a fallback in case the stadium takes longer. Mayor Ed Lee is lining up behind a plan Supervisor Mark Farrell will introduce to give the Niners the option of staying through 2015 or leaving a year earlier. In return, the team would pay $1 million to the city up front for Recreation and Park Department programs, plus guarantee to make up any losses the city would incur by the early pullout. Current Candlestick concession employees would also have rights to equivalent jobs at the new stadium in Santa Clara. Perhaps most important for San Francisco, the team and the city will collaborate on a Super Bowl bid committee to try to bring the championship game to the Bay Area as early as 2016.

San Francisco 49ers

Kezar Stadium
Kezar Stadium

Candlestick Park
Candlestick Park

Levi's Stadium
Levi's Stadium

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