Lawsuit challenges Santa Clara stadium measure

A photo of what the new 49ers stadium could look like in Santa Clara if negotiations succeed. (Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers)

April 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Santa Clara woman is throwing the first legal monkey wrench into the 49ers plan to build a new stadium in the South Bay. A hearing is scheduled Thursday afternoon on her lawsuit that would wipe a stadium funding initiative off the June ballot.

Santa Clara's city attorney has reviewed the lawsuit and does not believe it has "merit."

The 49ers have been trying to get a stadium relocation from Candlestick Park to a Great America amusement park lot, across the street from the team's Santa Clara headquarters. The hope is for the proposed $937 million stadium to be ready in time for the 2014 NFL season.

While the city of Santa Clara claims a multitude of economic benefits, versus its portion of stadium investment, critics don't want the city to spend public funds for a stadium for a privately owned football franchise.

Deborah Bress, the opponent who filed the lawsuit this month, wants the court to force the city to change language in Measure J, or remove it from the June 8th ballot. She claims that the measure's title and wording will mislead voters about the funding, making it pass easier.

Currently it's called "Santa Clara Stadium Taxpayer Protection and Economic Progress Act," which doesn't mention the 49ers at all. The lawsuit also claims the measure understates the city's financial contributions of $40 million in redevelopment funds and $35 million from new hotel taxes. The measure does not reveal that Santa Clara's total responsibility is a larger sum -- a direct stadium subsidy of $114 million.

The 49ers team is not named as a defendant in this lawsuit, and so is not commenting. The court hearing is scheduled for 1:30 Thursday in Santa Clara County Superior Court.


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