The City has lost the 49ers. The team of “The Catch,” West Coast offense, Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott and Bill Walsh is heading to Santa Clara. We’ll just have to get used to that. But as the celebrated team leaves, The City will be receiving some bonuses that will hopefully blunt the pain, including cash payments to sever the Candlestick Park lease and wrap up the deal.
The 49ers and The City just finalized a deal to smooth the transition to Santa Clara. The first item on the list: $5.3 million in cash payments to San Francisco.
In addition, San Francisco concessions vendors, who have sold hot dogs and beer at Candlestick Park for decades, will have a substantial place at the new Santa Clara stadium. As many as 500 concessions jobs will be reserved for old Candlestick Park employees, or 19 percent of the projected total.
Finally, The City will be the major marketing partner in the 49ers’ pitch to host the 50th Super Bowl in 2016.
As an incentive to build new stadiums, the NFL tends to give any city or team that cuts the ribbon on a new field an early chance to host a Super Bowl, bringing thousands of fans and millions of dollars to the host city.
But under the deal between The City and the 49ers, it won’t be Santa Clara that organizes the marketing pitch to bring fans to the city — it will be San Francisco.
This is a potential windfall for San Francisco. If Santa Clara had been the marketing partner for Super Bowl L, its leaders would have done everything they could to lure fans into their city — to stay in Santa Clara hotels, eat at restaurants there and tour highlights in the immediate area. Admittedly, Santa Clara would have had a tough time selling its city to the fans. But at least it would have had the chance.
Now, with San Francisco controlling the marketing pitch, The City will undoubtedly go all out to promote Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge and all the amenities we famously have to offer. Although the 49ers promise Santa Clara will have some role in promoting itself, the city will inevitably be a footnote in the larger marketing scheme, and San Francisco will have a virtually free rein to lure millions of dollars into town.
We may have to say goodbye to one of the most storied football teams in history, but at least our leaders are finding new and unexpected ways to squeeze out benefits from the loss.