Legislation helps 49ers Santa Clara stadium plans

It doesn’t seal the deal, but a bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Sunday would make it easier for the San Francisco 49ers to build a new stadium down in Santa Clara.

The legislation, authored by Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, exempts the team from having to garner competitive bids on their proposed Santa Clara stadium, allowing them to go with whatever company they select.

Santa Clara’s city charter would ordinarily require work on the project to be publicly bid.

The stadium construction feat is so complex, however, that the 49ers need to choose specific project managers “with extensive NFL experience and familiarity with NFL guidelines and standards,” Alquist said in a recent editorial.

“There are only a few construction companies in the world that can actually build an NFL stadium,” said 49ers spokeswoman Lisa Lang.

The legislation, SB43, is permissive, but not mandatory. Santa Clara’s city council must still decide whether to allow the bidding exemption.

“The City Council will have the final say,” Alquist said. “The ultimate say is with Santa Clara residents when they vote next year on whether the stadium will go forward.”

Santa Clara voters are expected to decide next year whether their city should invest $114 million of redevelopment funds in the $937 million project, which officials hope will be completed in time for the 2014 NFL season.

Santa Clara residents who have opposed the use of public funds in the proposed stadium project were also opposed to the legislation.

“There is simply no justification for state legislators to give this city council the freedom to ignore our charter when it suits them,” Bill Bailey, Treasurer of the informal Members of Santa Clara Plays Fair group, wrote in a recent email to group members.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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