Santa Clara 49ers vote likely in fall

Santa Clara voters may be asked to decide whether the South Bay city should spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new stadium to woo the 49ers away from San Francisco before a necessary environmental report or a contract between the city and team have been finalized.

Team owners have stated that they aim to relocate the team by 2012 next to the Great America theme park, which is on land owned by the city of Santa Clara and is roughly 40 miles southeast of the 49ers’ San Francisco home at Candlestick.

The Santa Clara City Council has scheduled a vote Tuesday to decide whether the city will spend upwards of $65,000 to add a local measure to the November ballot. If the ballot measure passes by a simply majority vote, it would commit the city to a deal with the franchise.

Senior Santa Clara officials have warned the council in a report that “the strongest way” to ensure that a vote on the stadium is “binding” is to wait until an environmental impact report on the proposed stadium has been completed, which may occur next year.

But officials in the report recommend putting the measure on the November ballot to “allow the citizens of the city to vote on the stadium at the earliest possible time.”

According to the report, the November ballot measure would outline “all of the key issues” from a “term sheet” currently being negotiated between the city and the franchise. The term sheet will describe the “stadium transaction,” according to the report.

The 49ers has asked for $222 million from Santa Clara to cover one-fifth of stadium construction costs. That works out to roughly $5,200 per household, based on U.S. Census data. Santa Clara is $51 million short of the team’s asking price but city officials have reported that the city could raise three-quarters of the money from bonds and a new hotel tax.

Also Tuesday, the City Council is scheduled to consider a request by opponents of the proposed deal who have asked that the ballot measure include specific information on the proposed deal.

“What we’re demanding,” former Santa Clara planning commissioner Byron Beck said, “is that each and every material term and fact has to be spelled out in detail.”

Team officials continue to say that keeping the 49ers in San Francisco is a backup plan only, to be considered if negotiations don’t work out in Santa Clara.

jupton@examiner.com

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