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S.F. may toss hardball at 49ers

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San Francisco officials, who say they were caught off guard by the announcement that the San Francisco 49ers will move to Santa Clara, are taking several approaches to find ways to keep the team, keep the name or perhaps recruit another NFL team to The City.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that The City is working to use its legal leverage to prevent the team from leaving and taking the San Francisco 49ers name.

Newsom added that The City may choose to play hardball by withholding essential services such as game-day police protection and rerouted buses until the 49ers lease runs out in 2008.

“We will be looking at all our legal options and we will strategize about making it more difficult for the 49ers to leave than they would like it to be,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein continues to pitch in her political weight in the effort to keep the 49ers from leaving The City. On Tuesday, she indicated that she would author legislation that would prevent the franchise from using “San Francisco” or “49ers” in the team’s name should they relocate to Silicon Valley.

“You’re in San Francisco, you’re a San Francisco 49er,” said Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor. “You’re outside of San Francisco, you’re not a San Francisco 49er.”

Feinstein also negotiated a meeting between Newsom and 49ers co-owner John York last Friday, which jump-started new talks to keep the team in San Francisco.

Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also pressured York not to leave San Francisco.

Team officials have said that although they will continue talks with San Francisco, they are also continuing to pursue an option to build a new stadium adjacent to the Great America amusement park in Santa Clara. The Candlestick Point site, they say, needs too many infrastructure and public transit improvements and provides inadequate parking and tailgating opportunities.

Keeping and attracting new professional sports teams to San Francisco was also on the mind of Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who introduced a resolution at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting calling for the creation of a Sports Commission for The City.

Although Alioto-Pier said she’d been kicking the idea around for a while, she toldher board colleagues that the news of the 49ers possible departure underscored the need for a single body whose job it is to make sure that San Francisco has the best sports teams and facilities.

“First-rate sports teams and facilities are not only an economic generator, they are a source of pride for the entire community,” she said.

beslinger@examiner.com, jsabatini@examiner.com The Associated Press also contributed to this story

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