Niners still set on Santa Clara

Officials from the San Francisco 49ers said the team is committed to a site in Santa Clara, despite a request by the South Bay city to extend negotiations on a stadium by seven months.

Santa Clara had pegged July 22 as the deadline for stadium negotiations with the 49ers on a site near the Great America theme park. However, a number of complications, including opposition to the move by Cedar Fair, the Ohio-based company that owns Great America, have pushed back the date until February.

Staff from the Santa Clara development office will formally request the extension today at a City Council meeting.

Originally planned for November, Santa Clara residents will now have to wait until a special election in June 2009 — at the earliest — to vote on approving the new stadium, which would require the city to devote nearly $140 million in redevelopment funds, according to Carol McCarthy, the deputy city manager. The special election could be held as late as October 2009, according to McCarthy.

“Santa Clara remains the front runner,” team spokesman Pete Hillan said. “The team is working as hard as they can to make something happen in Santa Clara.”

Former 49ers’ president Carmen Policy, who has been working with developers on keeping the team in San Francisco, said The City now has an edge over Santa Clara. The voter approval of Proposition G earlier this month, which supports development in Candlestick Point, means a stadium in the area could be finished by 2012 — the year 49ers’ officials said they’d like to have a new ballpark finished.

“It seems like every month the San Francisco deal gets sweeter, less complicated, and more attractive,” said Policy.

Hillan said it was too early to tell if Santa Clara’s negotiation extension would push its expected completed date past 2012.

Joe Arellano, spokesman for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, said “if the 49ers ultimately decide to stay in San Francisco, then the recent passage of Proposition G moves us one step closer to providing them with a world-class stadium.”

The special election will cost Santa Clara $600,000, and the city has already paid $600,000 in redevelopment costs, according to City Council documents.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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