The 49ers stadium initiative was cruising toward a big victory early Wednesday morning in the City of Santa Clara. With 33 of 58 precincts reporting, Measure J supporters had nearly 61 percent of the vote. Jed York, the 29-year-old team president who has spearheaded the team's stadium efforts, was careful not to claim victory, but there was a festive atmosphere at the "Yes on J" headquarters in Santa Clara.
Approval of the measure gives the go ahead for the 49ers to build a 68,500-seat stadium adjacent to their team headquarters. Ground breaking would begin in January 2012 and the project is planned to be completed for the start of the 2014 season. The total cost of the stadium is $937 million. The City of Santa Clara would provide $114 million mostly through redevelopment funs and a hotel tax hike. A city-run stadium authority would be expected to raise $330 million while the 49ers, with a likely assist from the NFL, would be responsible for $493 million.
Should the measure pass as expected, Jed York would be in the same spot his uncle, former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., was in in 1997 when San Francisco voters approved $100 million toward a new 49ers stadium at Candlestick Point. That initiative, however, fell apart after DeBartolo lost control of the team and the new owners, John and Denise York, switched their focus to Santa Clara.
Jed York on Tuesday said the Santa Clara plan is much farther along than the 1997 Candlestick project and has fewer moving parts. The 1997 plan was for a stadium to be built in conjunction with a shopping mall. York also said there are no transportation concerns with the Santa Clara plan. The site already is close to two light rail stops, a commuter rail platform and is adjacent to three highways.
The next step for the York family is to secure financing. "When you look at some of the deals that are getting done right now - we feel pretty good with where things sit and we hope to be playing football in a new stadium in 2014," Jed York said. York also said he was "confident" the NFL will be able to provide a loan toward the 49ers' new stadium. The league's previous loan program lent as much as $150 million to teams building new stadiums but dried up in 2006. "Commissioner (Roger) Goodell has talked about that," York said. "We're confident that there's going to be some program. I don't know what the name of it is going to be called. But I think that will be a piece of the CBA (collective bargaining agreement). ... I'm confident there will be some commitment from the NFL moving forward."
-- Matt Barrows