San Francisco’s announcement Monday that it was pulling out of the running for the 2016 Olympics dashed hopes in The City for new development, a boost in The City’s already booming tourism industry and the international prestige that comes with hosting the historic international sporting event.
City officials say last week’s announcement by the San Francisco 49ers that the team planned to move to Santa Clara in 2012 couldn’t have come at a worse time: the night before a scheduled meeting with U.S. Olympic officials to discuss San Francisco’s proposal. The Olympic bid centered on a long-discussed plan to build a new stadium at Candlestick Point that would be used to hold the high-profile opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the popular track-and-field events.
On Monday, Mayor Gavin Newsom faxed a letter to U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Peter Ueberroth to officially withdraw San Francisco from the domestic competition to represent the nation in an international bid for the Summer Games. That leaves Chicago and Los Angeles to compete for the honor.
While expressing disappointment, Newsom wrote in his letter it would be “a disservice to everyone involved — in particular those supporting the bid with either their time or financial resources — to continue to drag out what in the end would clearly be a losing proposition.”
Newsom and other city officials said they were caught off guard when 49ers’ owner John York announced last week that he was ready to walk away from years of negotiations with San Francisco and was moving forward with plans to station the new state-of-the-art football venue adjacent to Santa Clara’s Great America amusement Park.
Sam Singer, spokesman for the Lennar Corp., the developer of the new stadium at Candlestick Point, said he was in weekly meetings between Lennar, The City and the 49ers. The 49ers said the discussions were always focused on the “question of how the 49ers were going to proceed in San Francisco, not if they were going to proceed in San Francisco.”
Officials for the NFL team counter that they had warned The City that a proposed new stadium project at Candlestick Point was never certain, despite unveiling plans for thenew stadium this summer and working with The City to produce a feasibility study on how a new football stadium could be temporarily reconfigured into an Olympic-size venue.
On Monday, team officials released a letter sent to Newsom in September that encouraged The City’s bid committee to consider presenting U.S. Olympic officials with an alternative feasibility study also provided by the 49ers, that used the existing Monster Park stadium, in the event that the team’s concerns about parking and transportation access couldn’t be resolved.
“There were long, heated discussions about the problems related to the project,” 49ers spokeswoman Lisa Lang said.
Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said hosting the Olympics would have provided San Francisco with needed infrastructure dollars and that “the cascade of unfortunate dominoes … is a loss for the entire Bay region.”