Santa Clara approves stadium negotiation

January 16, 2008 8:31:26 AM PST
The San Francisco 49ers are one big step closer to building a new stadium in Santa Clara.

By the stroke of midnight a major hurdle had been cleared to move forward with a 49ers stadium deal. It wasn't a swift decision, but rather took eight-months of study by Santa Clara's city staff.

After listening last night to at least three hours of passionate opinions for and against a deal, the Santa Clara city council voted 6-1 to begin formal negotiations to help finance a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers.

The city manager's office had recommended council move forward on the $916 million dollar project, but with several caveats -- most importantly with a firm limit to invest no more than $136 million dollars. This is still $51 million dollars short of what the 49ers wanted -- even so, the team says it's confident it can work out the finances. Their other major hurdle is working out a deal with Cedar Fair, the company that operates the Great America theme park, next to where the 49ers want to build the stadium.

"They've come out publicly and said that they're not in favor particularly of site one, on the Great America parking lot. A little more favorable to an alternative site closer to the team headquarters and again that's something that we believe that we'll be able to work out with them," said Peter Hillan, 49ERS spokesperson.

Cedar Fair currently leases this city land and has its own list of demands, including a cut of parking lot revenue.

City officials and the 49ers are expected to begin negotiations toward a term sheet that details a binding agreement. Negotiations are expected to take four to six months, leading up to a ballot measure put before Santa Clara voters likely in November.