Traffic gridlock at 49ers games extends to the fight about keeping the team in The City.
Transportation has become the Catch-22, as the 49ers demand accessible roads and public transit exist before they commit to remaining in San Francisco, while city officials say they cannot seek federal funding for transportation fixes when lawmakers are convinced the team has one foot out the door.
After years of jumping over legal and bureaucratic hurdles to set the stage for construction of a modern football stadium at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, transportation issues for the proposed venue will remain snarled until the team pledges to stay in San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom told The Examiner.
Fixing that issue, however, cannot happen as long as the team remains insistent on moving to a proposed $937 million stadium in Santa Clara, he said.
In a recent interview with The Examiner, team President Jed York said the proposed Santa Clara site is already at the juncture of several major freeways and has a train station that can connect commuters up and down the Bay Area.
When the team currently plays at Candlestick Park, a majority of approximately 67,000 spectators per game arrive by car and face the daunting choices of battling through traffic on city streets or cramming from U.S. Highway 101 into Harney Lane — a nearly mile-long road connecting to the stadium with only two lanes in each direction.
Newsom said that will change if the 49ers stay in The City since a transportation plan for the Hunters Point stadium would “significantly improve” access for spectators. It includes bus-rapid-transit service to the venue and reconfigured roadways that would offer 29 percent “greater exit capacity” than the existing stadium.
About 19 percent of spectators take public transit to games currently, but that number could rise above 25 percent with improved transit options, according to a city report sent to York. Greater road access would allow fans to clear the stadium on the busiest game day in 74 minutes, “slightly higher” than the NFL average for stadiums of 60 minutes, the report says.
In May, York sent Newsom a letter calling The City’s transportation plan inadequate, citing an analysis done by an NFL consulting firm, which also questions The City’s ability to fund the transportation improvements and get them done in a timely manner.
Newsom said the team has not been willing to hash out differences about the transportation.
“The only time they’ll meet with me is on lease negotiations or associated with improvements to [Candlestick],” Newsom said.
The team denies that it is not willing to work with Newsom.
“We would be pleased to help the mayor with this effort,” spokeswoman Lisa Lang said. “We look forward to his call.”
Slow crawl to keeping the 49ers
City projections for transportation fixes at the proposed 49ers stadium at Hunters Point Shipyard:
21,874 Vehicles leaving the existing stadium during a sold-out event
17,075 Vehicles that would leave the proposed new stadium, given improved public transit options
2 hours, 50 minutes Time it takes vehicles to clear the parking lots following sold-out games at existing stadium, or 7,700 vehicles per hour
1 hour, 28 minutes Time it would take vehicles to clear the parking lots following sold-out games at proposed new stadium, or 9,900 vehicles per hour
11,500 Patrons that currently travel to games by Muni buses or other bus services, or 19 percent of attendees
16,388 Patrons expected to arrive by transit to proposed stadium via better transit options, or 25 percent of attendees
Source: Fehrs & Peers Transportation Consultants