Santa Clara Voters Approve 49ers Stadium Measure
An estimated 25,000 registered voters in the hub of Silicon Valley voted yes for the 49ers-backed Measure J by 59.61 percent, giving the storied NFL franchise city funding and access to a parking lot adjacent to Great America theme park – a satellite lot that sits across from the team's headquarters and practice facility.
While backers of a new San Francisco stadium site at Hunters Point, led by former 49ers president Carmen Policy, vow to maintain their campaign to keep the 49ers in their namesake city, the team spent more than $4 million on a campaign that began in 2006 to win over voters in Santa Clara, and received the backing of the city's business and political leaders in doing so.
Final estimates indicate the 49ers may have doled out as much as $200 per voter to secure a new stadium site in the South Bay city of 110,000 residents, just north of San Jose.
The plan also received the approval of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who promised the 49ers would get top consideration for a future Super Bowl at the new stadium, which is scheduled to be ready for the 2014 season. Construction is set to begin in 2012.
By contrast, the stadium's opponents in Santa Clara spent about $20,000 in a futile effort to convince voters that the project would drain the city's already taxed general fund and end up a financial risk rather than a revenue generator.
After more than a decade of failed attempts to find a suitable site in San Francisco to replace aging Candlestick Park, the 49ers chose the Santa Clara location because of its freeway access, fewer roadblocks to construction and the fact that much of the team's season ticket base lives in Santa Clara County.
While the precinct results trickled in late Tuesday night, 49ers president and CEO Jed York -- the face of the Santa Clara stadium initiative -- talked about his door-to-door campaign efforts last weekend.
"The most common question was probably, 'Is the name still going to be the San Francisco 49ers?' and the answer is yes. We're the San Francisco 49ers," York said.
Measure J's approval was the boost the franchise needed to finally begin construction of a state-of-the-art stadium facility, in a state strangled by debt and high unemployment, and historically reluctant to contribute public funding for sports arenas.
"It makes it a lot easier to get a stadium built in Northern California," said York, who eagerly watched the vote count with campaign workers and fans at the American Legion hall in Santa Clara. "It's now full go-ahead in Santa Clara."
Under the terms of the deal, Santa Clara will contribute $114 million of taxpayer money to help fund the proposed $937 million stadium, a package that will include $42 million in redevelopment funds and a hotel guest tax.
A Santa Clara stadium authority is expected to contribute as much as $330 million by adding a ticket surcharge and selling bonds, naming rights, vendor rights and seat licenses.
The 49ers say they will fund the remaining $500 million for the project, and have promised Santa Clara residents through a fiercely negotiated "term sheet" that the franchise will be responsible for any construction cost overruns and revenue shortfalls if and when the stadium is built and opens for business.
Santa Clara also promised residents it would upgrade mass transit in the area to address traffic concerns, and that the city would work to control noise and possible rowdiness in neighborhoods that might result from NFL game day crowds.