49ers want to bypass city's bidding process

July 8, 2009 7:13:41 PM PDT
There's new controversy in the effort to build a new 49er stadium in Santa Clara. Quickly-drafted state legislation would allow the team to get around a city mandate that calls for a competitive and public bidding process.

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The San Francisco 49ers would like to build a new stadium in Santa Clara and bypass the city's required open and competitive bidding process. Opponents are outraged a bill heard in Sacramento Wednesday opens the door for that to happen.

"The San Francisco 49ers want it both ways. They want to spend the money of Santa Clarans and at the same time they are asking to be exempt from our city ordinances," says Bill Bailey from Santa Clara Plays Fair.

The 49ers have always wanted to have control over who builds the new stadium and indeed State Senator Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, says she proposed the legislation after talking with team owners Jed and John York.

State Senator Alquist says she sponsored the legislation because she believes the stadium proposal would create jobs both short and long term and says this is a specialized project.

"So it's really important that a contractor is chosen who knows exactly what to do and that is why sole sourced instead of going with lowest bidder," says State Senator Alquist.

The 49ers have agreed to pay for any cost overruns on the $937 million stadium project. Last month the City Council agreed to contribute up to $114 million in public monies. The city says the senator's bill merely offers options and does not eliminate the possibility of open bidding.

"On the surface it may appear that way, but I think because of the clause that it is not a mandate, makes it palatable for the city," says Santa Clara spokesperson Dan Beerman.

If the legislation passes, a charter review committee will eventually advise the City Council on whether it should set aside its own rules for the stadium bidding. Ultimately though the fate of the 49er stadium will be in the hands of Santa Clara voters and that's something both sides are counting on.

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