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49ers weigh stadium options

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While the San Francisco 49ers sort out the finanacial contribution of Santa Clara County to the building of the team’s new $800 million stadium, San Francisco officials continue to tout their plan, which would contribute $100 million in developer money to the project.

The NFL team is conducting focus groups to gauge the interest of Santa Clara’s residents in having — and helping pay for — a new stadium.

Ideas under consideration by Santa Clara officials include using money from the city’s roughly $200 million utilityfund, charging fans a ticket tax or issuing bonds from public redevelopment or sports authority agencies, according to Assistant City Manager Ron Garratt.

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Although officials for the 49ers have been in negotiations for nearly a decade with San Francisco to rebuild the new stadium at Candlestick Point, last November the team’s co-owner called San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to say The City’s plan was unworkable and the team was pulling out of the deal to relocate to the South Bay.

The team says its main concerns about the Candlestick Point proposal focused on a plan to create a development project that included housing and commercial sites around the stadium — a plan that would crowd fans’ experience and push cars into an enormous parking garage. One of The City’s motivations for including the development, however, is that it would generate revenue that would back a $100 million contribution to the stadium’s costs.

The team has since resumed negotiations with San Francisco, which came back with a proposal to build the stadium at the site of the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, while keeping the revenue-generating development at Candlestick Point. However, the shipyard site has been questioned by 49er officials due to manadatory environmental cleanup that must occur on some parcels.

The 49ers, who want a new stadium by 2012, say they have little faith the shipyard — which is still in federal hands — will beturned over to The City in time for the cleanup required to meet their deadline. The team has made it clear, however, that Santa Clara is the first option and San Francisco only a backup.

Michael Cohen of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development said he is optimistic San Francisco will eventually prevail.

“Ultimately, we think over time, when they encounter challenges in Santa Clara, the more progress we make here, the scales begin to tip in our favor and we’ll become a more and more appealing option,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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