Bay Area sports fans are proud of the achievements of their many professional sports teams, but probably proudest of the several-time world champion, the San Francisco 49ers. The NFL team has been home to some of the legends of American football, and has an enormous following amongst Bay Area residents. The team announced several years ago that they were looking for a new stadium in which to hold their games, and that the City of Santa Clara was their first choice for the location of their new stadium. Since this announcement, there has been a flurry of activity in both Santa Clara (which would be proud to have the team call it home) and San Francisco (which has been unable to come up with a viable plan for a new stadium for the team).
Why a New Home?
The 49ers have traditionally played at Candlestick Park (a park whose name changes periodically with sponsorship) at the southern end of San Francisco. The stadium was constructed in the late 1950’s and sits in an area of the city that frequently experiences high and cold wind conditions and fog. For many years, fans and the team itself have complained that the combination of weather conditions at the venue and the age and general disrepair warranted a new stadium.
Santa Clara Emerges As the Niners’ Choice
In 2006, after years of negotiation and discussion (and several failed attempts to construct a plan for a new stadium) with the city of San Francisco, the 49ers announced that their first choice in seeking a new home for the team would be Santa Clara, CA. The team has maintained its training facilities in Santa Clara since 1987 and has had an ongoing and mutually beneficial relationship with the city for many years.
Once discussions began in earnest, things moved quickly and in 2007, the 49ers requested a feasibility study, and made presentations to the city council. With a groundswell of public support in Santa Clara, and against opposition from the city council of San Francisco, Measure J was added to the ballot in 2010. This measure was approved by voters and allowed for the plan to move forward in constructing a new home for the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara.
The proposed new stadium will be built on land owned by the City of Santa Clara, property that is currently serving as the overflow parking lot for the Great America amusement park. Neighbors will include the Santa Clara Convention Center, the Golf and Tennis Club, the 49ers training facilities, and many public-use attractions. The 68,000 seat proposed stadium will also be able to expand to 75,000 seats in order to host larger events such as the Superbowl and the World Cup, and will host the 49ers’ home games and other sporting and outdoor events throughout the year.
Located close to public transit options and major freeways, the stadium will be much more accessible than its predecessor, and will feature modern amenities, nearby shopping and dining options, and greater access for fans. The City of Santa Clara will own and operate the property through a new public agency known as the Stadium Authority.
Joe Montana Has Plans As Well
In more recent news, legendary 49er quarterback Joe Montana presented a plan with his development team in July of 2011 to the city council of Santa Clara. Their proposed plan to construct a high end hotel, sports bar, and restaurant near the proposed new stadium was met with overwhelming support by the council who approved an exclusive development deal with Montana’s group.