San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom issued a challenge to the 49ers when we talked about a stadium in The City this week.
“We’ve done everything we can to make it possible to build a stadium at Hunters Point,” he said. “If they reject this plan, the 49ers are going to have a hard time looking San Franciscans in the face if they take away their team.”
Newsom and I were talking after a San Francisco Chamber of Commerce luncheon, which featured discussion of propositions for the June 3 ballot, one of which included a new stadium in its proposal.
I asked Newsom if the 49ers had been invited to the luncheon. “Yes,” he said, “but look around. Do you see anybody from the organization here? They prefer to try to get Santa Clara to help pay for a new stadium.”
The Santa Clara City Council has planned to put a proposition on the June ballot to ask voters to approve the use of public money for a new 49ers stadium. Good luck with that. Perhaps 49ers owner John York should talk to Bob Lurie, who made four unsuccessful attempts to get San Francisco voters to help him build a new park for the Giants.
Apparently, the 49ers also plan to use personal seat licenses to help pay for it. Good luck on that one, too. That was part of the plan to build a new stadium in San Francisco in 1997, but the 49ers were just two years past the run that had brought them five Super Bowl triumphs. Now, they’re coming off a five-year record of 25-55; only the Raiders make them look good in comparison. Since they’re raising ticket prices this year, just selling season tickets, without personal seat licenses, will be a challenge.
The San Francisco proposition will not ask for public money. It’s a two-pronged effort. One part is a legally binding vote that would eliminate the $100 million bond issue created by Propositions D and F in 1997. The second part is a “will of the people” vote for a Bayview project that would include housing, park land and research areas — and room for a new stadium and parking. The primary developer, Lennar Corp., would provide the pad for the stadium and at least $100 million for the building of the venue, according to Carmen Policy, who is leading the operation.
If that’s approved by voters — the chamber’s poll of voter priorities had keeping the 49ers in San Francisco with 63 percent approval — Policy said they would take it to the NFL.
The league has taken no position on this issue, but the San Francisco project has considerable advantages. San Francisco is a prestigious location, Santa Clara is not. As a former president of the 49ers and part-owner of the Cleveland Browns, Policy has many important connections in the league. There is no question NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would favor a project headed by Policy, a man who gets things done, than one headed by Jed York, whose only qualification is being the owner’s son.
I’ve been skeptical that any new 49ers stadium would be built in this area, but San Francisco has put together a good plan and has a smart man in charge. It will be up to John York to swallow his pride and work with The City — or for the NFL to force the issue.