As the San Francisco 49ers prepared to shut the door on their namesake city, hometown fans greeted the departure Thursday with a stiff upper lip and just a hint of indifference.
Nostalgic fans and steely analysts characterized the move as a loss for the sentimental faithful within The City, but not a huge blow to the team’s future or its fan base.
“My brain likes the idea but my heart hates it,” fan Matthew Bonar said Thursday. “If it generates more revenue for the team, I guess that’s good. They’ll be able to afford better players, but Joe Montana didn’t throw ‘the catch’ to Dwight Clark in Santa Clara.”
The team’s departure to Santa Clara would mean a loss of about $5 million to $6 million in 49ers contract revenue for The City’s Recreation and Park Department and still more in parking taxes and local business revenue, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Vice President Jim Lazarus said. But he said the fact that the team would keep San Francisco in its name would mean a smaller “big-picture” loss.
“The next time they win the Super Bowl, even if they build the new stadium in Santa Clara, the parade will be up Market Street,” Lazarus said.
In a news conference Thursday, 49ers ownerJohn York vowed to keep The City’s name linked to the team’s name.
But Derf Butler, owner of Fanatics Sports Complex on the edge of the Bayview, said his business would take a hit if the team leaves, as would the whole Bayview neighborhood. “The team that brought five Super Bowls to The City and a tremendous amount of prestige, deserves the support of The City and its financial backing,” he said.
From the standpoint of the fans, however, the move might not matter. Former 49ers beat reporter Jon Rochmis pointed out Thursday that the bulk of the 49ers season-ticket holders live on the Peninsula.
“I don’t think San Francisco is going to be impacted as much as Oakland is by losing the A’s. San Francisco will always be San Francisco and it will always have all these other activities and attractions. Oakland, as much as I love Oakland, has a lot of its identity tied up with the A’s, from a lot of standpoints,” Rochmis said.