Posted: Nov 9, 2006, 9:38 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: San Francisco & Tucson
Niners to leave SF, move to Santa Clara
- Phil Matier, Andrew Ross and Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writers
Thursday, November 9, 2006
(11-09) 11:14 PST -- The San Francisco 49ers will abandon their namesake city and look to build a stadium in Santa Clara, after concluding that their plan to build a stadium and retail-housing complex at Candlestick Point will not work.
The 49ers said Candlestick Point, where the team has played since 1971, cannot support a "new state-of-the-art NFL stadium and adjacent major mixed-use project." The decision to look at Santa Clara -- the team's headquarters and the site of their training facility -- came after "careful deliberation" and a year of study, the team said.
"The team came to the conclusion that the (San Francisco) project would not have offered the optimal game day experience it is seeking to create for fans, and has therefore decided not to move forward with the public approval process at Candlestick Point," the 49ers said in a statement.
The team said it would look elsewhere in the Bay Area if the Santa Clara site, near the Great America Amusement park, does not pan out. The team would keep the "San Francisco" name, co-owner John York said.
In a video posted on the 49ers Web site, York said the team has looked at more than 20 Bay Area sites, including several in San Francisco.
"After numerous hours and millions of dollar of study, analysis, it comes down fact that Candlestick Park cannot accommodate all we asked it to do and still provide fans with ultimate experience," York said.
Although the team said San Francisco's approval process would make it difficult to reach its goal of opening a new stadium by 2012, York did not blame the city for the collapse of its plans. He said city officials have worked "diligently" to make the project work.
York told San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and several supervisors about the plans Wednesday in a series of phone calls.
The team's major issue with the San Francisco site was the "incompatible land requirements" of Candlestick Point.
The team said the need for more mass transit and new infrastructure -- including "one of the largest parking structures in the world" -- pose huge challenges, and that the proposed development would "take up much of the space fans currently use for parking and tailgating."
The team said the proposed Santa Clara project site is near numerous roads that can accommodate heavy traffic and has public transportation nearby.
An aerial depiction on the team's Web site shows the envisioned stadium just off the Great America Parkway, on the Tasman East line of the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority's light rail line and near an ACE train station.
While not blaming San Francisco, York was annoyed at the city's insistence that any stadium deal be approved at the ballot box, sources said. A campaign to win voter approval would cost around $6 million, York complained.
In the statement, the team also noted that the stadium's price tag could balloon past $800 million when all the infrastructure improvements are taken into account.
York's decision followed a meeting Wednesday with representatives of Lennar Corp., the would-be developers of the housing and retail stores that were to accompany the proposed 80,500-seat stadium. York gave his decision during the meeting and began contacting city officials.
Newsom spokesman Peter Ragone said Wednesday that the call came in early evening, stunning and perplexing officials who had been meeting weekly with team representatives.
In his calls to the mayor and to supervisors, York repeatedly said his decision was final. The team could not stay in San Francisco, he said, because the stadium deal "didn't pencil out" and because provisions for transportation and parking at the proposed site at Candlestick Point were inadequate.
The announcement also apparently ends a possible bid by San Francisco to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, which would have been tied to the construction of a new stadium in San Francisco.
The timing of the 49ers' news means that even should some reconciliation between the city and the football team be reached, it might be too late to help the Olympic bid. San Francisco 2016 must submit its bid document, some 250 to 300 pages, by Jan. 22. The certainty of a bid's plans is one criterion the USOC will use in assessing it.
In the video on the 49ers Web site, York said he hoped the Bay Area still has a shot at hosting the Olympics, suggesting the opening and closing ceremonies could be hosted at Monster Park or the new Santa Clara location.
York also said that the team twice attempted to modify the stadium plans to accommodate the Olympic bid but had to balance that consideration with the original intent of the project.
"We constantly reminded the city this stadium is an NFL stadium for the team and fans for the next 30 years, so it had to be feasible in itself," he said.
York told Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin that "Santa Clara has become the team's first priority'' as a new location and that the team was "not playing one city off the other,'' Peskin said Wednesday.
York apparently reached his decision on his own, without consulting advisers or partners.
"We're disappointed, but we're not planning on mortgaging the future for a deal,'' Ragone said.
Previous plans for a new stadium have called for a $600 million to $800 million complex to be built southeast of the current stadium.
In 1997, voters approved a controversial ballot proposition authorizing $100 million for a stadium, but that plan never got off the ground.
York said Wednesday that his next move is to begin talks with Santa Clara officials.
"We're proud to have the San Francisco 49ers as part of our community," said Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan. "We have been looking to expand our entertainment options in the Great America/Convention Center area for years, and this stadium can be a great addition ... we are ready to give this project our full attention."
Chronicle staff writers Steve Rubenstein, Kevin Lynch and Cecilia Vega contributed to this report.
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You know, I think York's points are all pretty valid and are consistent with what others here have said. San Francisco, in its 49 sq. miles, just doesn't really have room to spare for a football stadium with monster parking lot for bridge and tunnel tailgaiters. They SHOULD go to the burbs. I'm not so sure how viable is the plan to hold onto the SF name, though. As I've said with regard to the "A's", I can get to Raiders games on BART, fairly quickly and easily. I predict they will become the team of most San Franciscans. And how long will the folks of San Jose/Santa Clara put up with "their" team being called the "San Francisco" anything?