The 49ers have received the final chunk of funding for the team’s new $1 billion stadium in Santa Clara, owner Jed York announced Thursday. The news appears to have dashed any remaining hopes for keeping the resurgent Niners in their namesake city.
York met with NFL officials gathered for the Super Bowl in Indianapolis and later tweeted that the stadium project had taken a “big step forward” with a $200 million NFL financing and loan package.
“This is a big step for the 49ers and a big step for stadium development in California,” York said during a conference call with reporters. “This is a big thing for everybody.”
The pledge by the NFL follows an $850 million bank loan approved last year to build the 68,000-seat facility that the team wants to complete by the 2015 season. York said if the construction schedule goes particularly well, the Niners could be playing 50 miles south of San Francisco by 2014.
“Even though we won’t be playing in San Francisco, we will always be the San Francisco 49ers,” York said.
The team also will receive $35 million in Santa Clara hotel taxes and $40 million in redevelopment agency funding, which the city says is still available despite the recent dissolution of such agencies because the project was already underway.
York said the NFL funds have “no strings attached,” dismissing predictions that the league might require the team to share any new facility with the Oakland Raiders. But York said cohabitation remains possible because of how Santa Clara voters approved the stadium —although no deal has been struck with the Raiders.
“We’ve had conversations with them,” York said. “We keep each other abreast of the stadium situation.”
The league’s preference for shared stadiums was manifested in the New Meadowlands Stadium, opened in 2010 as home to New York’s NFL Giants and Jets. That funding mix included $300 million from the NFL, although York noted that the Niners’ $200 million is the most ever granted a single team.
York thanked Mayor Ed Lee, who has largely stood on the sidelines as the team has planned its move. The mayor has made it clear, however, that San Francisco is a “Plan B” if Santa Clara is abandoned.
The new funding comes as legal wrangling over the stadium ramps up in the South Bay. A group called Santa Clara Plays Fair recently submitted thousands of signatures seeking a referendum on voters’ 2010 approval of the stadium, which opponents say is now more costly and therefore subject to another vote.
But Santa Clara’s city attorney filed legal papers Monday arguing that the issue has “once and for all” been decided by voters. Opponents have expressed interest in suing to force the city to place the matter before voters.
Niners Funding Puzzle
$850 million loan from sources including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America
$200 million financing and loan package from the NFL, announced Thursday
$40 million from the Santa Clara Redevelopment Agency
$35 million from Santa Clara hotel tax