Niners extend lease at Candlestick Park

The San Francisco 49ers have agreed to stay at Candlestick Park for at least four more years in an agreement that would settle a $60 million dispute over improvements at the dilapidated stadium.

A five-year contract will take effect at the end of the current season. It will allow the Niners the option of leaving the park a year early, said the mayor’s spokesman, Tony Winnicker, who called the deal a “win-win.”

“The 49ers certainly understand we will continue to advocate for Hunters Point as a perfect location for a new stadium, and they will continue to develop their option in Santa Clara,” Winnicker said. “This agreement gives certainty to both the team and The City.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom and 49ers President Jed York met about two weeks ago and came to the agreement, Winnicker said.

The team’s plans for a new stadium in Santa Clara are under way, with the completion date recently delayed due to uncertain labor negotiations between the NFL and the players union.

“Our goal is to open in Santa Clara by 2015,” team spokeswoman Lisa Lang said. “Our plan is to play at Candlestick through 2014.”

The 49ers’ contract with San Francisco was set to expire at the end of the 2013 season, according to Rich Hillis, a deputy director for the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The new agreement would keep the team in San Francisco until the end of 2015 unless the 49ers exercise an option to leave a year early. The team also could exercise a series of one-year options after 2015.

City and team officials have been wrangling over a $60 million claim for repairs. The team said the money is needed for basic infrastructure and repairs, while Newsom has criticized the claim as a ploy to build luxury boxes.

“The City was exposed to a lawsuit,” Hillis said. “It would have been an uncertain legal battle. The big thing is we now have that resolved.”

San Francisco will provide $6.5 million in rent credits on deferred maintenance and safety, according to Hillis. About $4.5 million will come by the beginning of next season. Another $6.5 million in rent credits can be used for either stadium improvements or a break in rent during the next five years.

The new contract must be approved by the Recreation and Park Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

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