Santa Clara lingers in Niners’ playbook

The 49ers still have faith that Santa Clara — not San Francisco — will build a new stadium for the NFL team to move into by 2012, despite a decision by officials for the Silicon Valley city Tuesday that would delay putting the idea before voters until 2009.

San Francisco, which has proposed building a new state-of-the-art stadium for the team at the former site of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, remains the team’s “viable backup” plan, team spokesman Pete Hillan said.

Mayor Gavin Newsom expressed skepticism Wednesday, saying that the decision Tuesday night by the Santa Clara City Council to extend negotiations with the team until February of next year made a 2012 timeline “impossible.”

“The delay of the vote in Santa Clara, make no mistake, is a big blow to those efforts,” Newsom said. “The only place youcould possibly open a stadium in the state right now is in San Francisco in 2012.”

Earlier this month, San Francisco voters passed Measure G, which set in motion redevelopment plans in Bayview-Hunters Point that include up to 10,000 housing units, commercial space, parks and a 22-acre parcel for a stadium in the team chooses to stay in San Francisco. In November 2006, the 49ers rejected a plan to rebuild the stadium at Candlestick Point and turned their attention to Santa Clara.

Hillan said there were still outstanding concerns with San Francisco’s proposed site at Hunters Point, including whether needed environmental remediation would get funded and finished, if The City could provide more transportation options for game-day traffic and the absence of a finance plan.

“Even though the extension occurred [in Santa Clara], we’re still optimistic we can keep the project’s timing on track,” Hillan said.

Santa Clara now expects to have put a nonbinding measure before voters — asking whether the city should contribute as much as

$150 million to the $916 million stadium project — in June or November of next year.

The special election could cost the city up to $600,000, according to Santa Clara Assistant City Manager Carol McCarthy. That’s an amount the city has already spent in redevelopment funds studying the proposal, she said.

Other obstacles for Santa Clara include negotiating payments for a city-owned parking lot that the team wants to use on game days — the lot is currently used by Ohio-based Cedar Fair, which runs the Great America amusement park, McCarthy said.

dsmith@sfexaminer.com

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