Niners owner John York hammered huge holes in The City’s latest stadium proposal to keep the team in San Francisco.
In a dismissive letter to Mayor Gavin Newsom sent Tuesday, York said he lacked confidence in the latest plan the Mayor’s Office submitted Thursday, which offered up a site at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard instead of rebuilding next to the current stadium at Candlestick Point.
The 49ers owner took umbrage at Newsom’s public statements that the team’s recently announced plan to build its new stadium in Santa Clara not only cost San Francisco a chance to host the 2016 Olympics but that the move was tantamount to damaging the economic welfare of Bayview-Hunters Point.
“The assertion that the 49ers were responsible for the lack of economic progress in the Bayview is not only wrong, it’s offensive,” York wrote to Newsom. “For you to suggest that Bayview has been waiting for 10 years for a new football stadium to cure the systemic problems that have been half a century in the making is preposterous. I would put it right up there with your press office’s attempt to blame the 49ers with the loss of The City’s Olympic bid.”
Newsom countered in a defensive fax later in the day that officials for the football team made promises back in 1997 — when a previous stadium plan was put before voters — that the 49ers stadium “could be a catalyst for positive social change.”
“It is with utter sincerity — and not a bit of ‘political gamesmanship’ — that I have pledged to make sure those promises are kept,” Newsom wrote.
For nearly a decade, team officials have been in negotiations with The City to build a new stadium in San Francisco’s southeast sector, which also included an ambitious proposal to create an entire neighborhood around the stadium with housing, shops and recreation.
In November, York called Newsom to say the NFL franchise was pulling out of the deal and planned to move south to Santa Clara.
At the time, Newsom said the announcement was unexpected, but the 49ers had been warning city officials for months that they weren’t happy with the Candlestick Point development plan, and official documents reveal that Santa Clara had been courting San Francisco’s football team for some time.
On Tuesday, the team is scheduled to make a presentation to Santa Clara’s City Council to begin “high-level” discussions about the possible move, according to 49ers spokeswoman Lisa Lang.
The City’s latest proposal for the shipyard attempts to address some of the concerns team officials said they had with the previously drafted Candlestick Point plan. A proposed parking garage the team said was too massive would be replaced with surface parking spaces, and there would be no game-day construction disruptions, since the new stadium would be built away from the existing facility.
Although the stadium would be built at Hunters Point, the new plan still includes building a multi-use residential and commercial project at Candlestick Point — with some of the revenue from that development going to the cost of rebuilding the stadium. The area where the stadium would be built in Hunters Point still needs to go through expensive environmental cleanup.
Among other concerns, York expressed skepticism that an aggressive project timeline established by city officials to rebuild the stadium by the team’s goal of 2012 could be achieved — particularly the cleanup.
Despite the bleak rhetoric exchanged by York and Newsom on Tuesday, the 49ers chief financial officer, Larry McNeil, said the team was “intrigued” by the newest proposal, according to top Newsom staffer Jesse Blout.
These are the highlights of the mayor’s proposed plan to build a new 49ers stadium at Hunters Point Shipyard. The previous plan to build a new stadium next to the existing one at Candlestick Point was deemed insufficient by the 49ers, who cited issues such as parking, traffic, tailgating, infrastructure and cost.
» 19,000 surface parking spots for tailgating
» Reduces about one-half of infrastructure cost for a new stadium
» 49ers fans will not be impacted by construction
» Aggressive timeline will have new stadium open by 2012
-Source: Mayor’s Office