Santa Clara wants to send stadium issue to court

January 24, 2012 11:49:47 PM PST
The 49ers season may be over, but the battle over construction of a possible new stadium in Santa Clara is ongoing. There's now a proposed ballot initiative to block the stadium from being built. The Santa Clara City Council took up the issue Tuesday night.

Stadium opponents did collect enough signatures for two issues they thought would go before voters later this year, but the City Council decided to reject those signatures and those initiatives and to take the whole issue to court.

Spray paint marks where surveyors and utility crews have begun prepping the Santa Clara site for construction of the future 49ers stadium. Santa Clara Mayor Jaime Matthews says the 49ers journey to the playoffs has given new life to the sale of the luxury boxes in the proposed new stadium.

"It raises the stakes, it made it so that our luxury boxes sold quicker, the stadium building license sold quicker, it built this excitement in and around it. People realize that this is a Super Bowl-bound team," said Matthews.

However, opponents of the Santa Clara stadium say they want a second public vote on construction and this time they want voters to be clear about the $1 billion price tag.

"The 49ers owned and marketed Measure J and intentionally left the facts of what it was going to cost our city off the ballot," said Deborah Brees from

Brees and her group,, have gathered enough signatures to qualify for a public referendum, but during Tuesday night's session, the city attorney recommended that the City Council reject the signatures, calling the issues the petitions raise "not referendable". Then he asked to take the issue to court.

"I ask that my office be authorized to file legal action to establish that these referenda are not properly referendable under California Law," City Attorney Richard Nosky.

Also, city staff estimated it would cost $2-3 million to print and carry out a special election.

When asked if they were prepared for all the costs associated with having to take the issue to the voters again, Brees said, "It's cheaper than $850 million worth of debt. I don't think it's going to exceed the debt. And they can rescind it. It's their choice what they decide what to do. It's going to cost lots and lots of money to take it to court too."

Brees said the group has already started collecting money for this oncoming legal battle.

Meanwhile, Matthews says that all this legal wrangling is not going to delay their plans for construction and said in fact, in six days the first shovels are going to go into the ground to start prepping for the new stadium in Santa Clara.