York’s ‘Tale of Two Cities’ continues

Mayor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco 49ers co-owner John York met Wednesday for the second time in seven days to see if there was a way to prevent the NFL team from moving to Santa Clara.

For months, the 49ers’ plans to build a new stadium complex at Candlestick Point had been intensely negotiated on a weekly basis between high-level staff members from The City, the 49ers and Lennar Corp., the developer. Then, out of the blue, according to Newsom, York called last week to say the team was pulling out of the deal and planned to move to land-rich Santa Clara.

According to team officials, plans to build a new stadium at Candlestick Point have been deemed unfeasible since needed infrastructure and public transportation improvements could push the costs past its proposed budget of between $600 million to $800 million. Additionally, York has said a proposed parking garage would limit fans’ ability to tailgate.

As a result, The City, which had centered a bid for the 2016 Olympics on a new 49ers stadium for track and field events as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, told U.S. Olympic officials on Monday that it was withdrawing its bid to host the prestigious sporting event.

After Wednesday’s meeting, held in Newsom’s City Hall office, the mayor said he had more clarity on the 49ers’ concerns and characterized the discussions as an “honest meeting that needed to be had.” The two also committed to meet again on Monday, he said.

On Tuesday, York met with Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan to discuss building the new stadium adjacent to the Great America amusement park. After his meeting with Newsom on Wednesday, the 49er owner said he would still continue the parallel negotiations.

“Moving forward, I will just say that the San Francisco 49ers have the oldest unremodeled stadium in the NFL and we need to get a new stadium in the San Francisco Bay Area by the year 2012.”

For more than a decade, 49ers officials have been negotiating with The City to build a new stadium at Candlestick Point. Although voters in 1997 approved a $100 million bond proposal that linked the sporting facility with an adjacent shopping mall, that project stalled when team ownership changed hands.

The newest plan includes a mixed commercial and retail complex that would have offset the cost of the stadium and was expected to help revitalize the economy of the southeast sector.

The commitment the 49ers organization made to the Bayview-Hunters Point community back in 1997 must still be fulfilled, Newsom said, even though York and his wife, Denise DeBartolo-York, didn’t take over ownership until 2000.

“I reiterated that to the 49ers,” Newsom said. “It’s been a community let down in the past, and we’re going to fight hard not to allow them to be let down again.”

Staff writer Josh Sabatini contributed to this report

beslinger@examiner.com

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