Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fan Base: 49'ers One Step Closer to Leaving SF

Looks like the San Francisco 49'ers really are going to move down south to Santa Clara. Good thing San Francisco has that World Series win to take the sting out of losing the City's longest standing sports franchise. 

The 49ers are a step closer to saying goodbye to San Francisco. 
Tuesday night the Santa Clara City Council voted 7-0 to approve plans to develop and pay for a new 68,500-seat stadium for the football team that has played in San Francisco since 1946. 
"Tonight we got a virtual shovel in the ground," said Mayor Jamie Matthews. 
With the approval, the 49ers - who have been in San Francisco for 65 years and won five Super Bowls - will likely leave Candlestick Park and play home games in Santa Clara for four decades. Construction could start next year and conclude in time for the 2014 season. 
Members of the City Council were acting as the Santa Clara Stadium Authority as they considered whether to approve an $850 million loan to build the $1 billion stadium on a 15-acre site that is currently a parking lot next to the Great America amusement park.

This is as clear a case of money triumphing over sentiment as you will ever find. Santa Clara is directly north of San Jose, 50 miles away from San Francisco. The 49'ers, the pro sports team most closely linked in the public's mind with San Francisco, will have as much relationship to the City as the Baltimore Ravens have to Washington DC. But, SF was unwilling to foot the bill to build a new stadium, while Santa Clara's city fathers were more than willing to open the spigots, taking on debt equal to about $7,000 per resident in order to fund the stadium construction.

Can't say as I entirely blame SF's anti-jock political class. The SF Giants built their stadium with their own money, with the City helping clear away red tape. The Giants proved that you can fill seats and field a contender even as you are self-financing your stadium, but for whatever reason the 49'ers owners couldn't be bothered to do the same. I guess if the choice is between spending free/subsidized money versus spending your own, then the choice is clear. Hope they enjoy the inevitable years of litigation that follows deals like this. 

It's a shame a storied franchise is leaving the City like this, but it's not like actual San Francisco residents care all that much. Candlestick is located at the utter southernmost point in the City, and draws fans more from the southern suburbs than from the City's neighborhoods. The move to the south simply makes official what has already been true for a long time. 

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