Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Newsom Challenges NFL, 49ers

Mike Swift, Mercury News reports:

NFL officials toured San Francisco's proposed site for a new 49ers stadium on Monday, just two days after the company that controls the 49ers' preferred site in Santa Clara said it opposes the South Bay stadium plan next to Great America.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom used the NFL visit to declare San Francisco's site as superior to Santa Clara's. The mayor told reporters that the NFL wants the 49ers to stay in the city, and that Santa Clara has "no way to justify" spending more than $160 million on a stadium, which could lure the team south for the 2012 season. Referring to the Bay-side location of Hunters Point, Newsom said:
With all due respect to Santa Clara, San Francisco has a better proposal. It should make the NFL pause and reflect on the fact that it makes no sense whatsover for the 49ers to leave and go down next to Highway 101 and an amusement park.
Newsom also questioned the wisdom of Santa Clara officials, who are considering whether to contribute $160 million to the stadium, as well as the multi-million dollar cost of moving an electric substation.
Any city that wants to put $200 million up, I can assure you the worst investment you can make is an NFL stadium. I just don't know how they can justify it. That being said, I guess that's up to them and the folks down there.
After meeting with Newsom in city hall, the NFL executives drove to the former Hunters Point Navel shipyard, a Superfund site that is being cleaned up by the U.S. Navy and developed by Lennar Corp. After passing mounds of contaminated soil covered with plastic tarps, a three-car caravan of city officials and Lennar executives drove the NFL executives to the top of a hill that offers commanding views of San Francisco Bay and downtown.

Neil Glat, a senior vice president with the NFL, called the view "pretty terrific."
Hunters Point is right there on the water and could be a special place, but the devil's always in the details and those infrastructure issues can be thorny issues, an[environmental] remediation issues can be time-consuming and costly.
Today, the 49ers will be showing off the highway and transit connections in Santa Clara - one glaring weakness at Hunters Point. The NFL is not planning to tell the 49ers which site to pick, Glat said.

Asked about Newsom's statement that "the NFL would like to see the 49ers stay in San Francisco," Glat said the NFL had made no statement to that effect.

A big part of the NFL's agenda Monday was to check on Monster Park, the aging city-owned edifice that will remain the 49ers' home until a new stadium is built. Four nationally televised games are scheduled at Monster in the coming season, including the first Monday Night Football game when the Arizona Cardinals visit San Francisco on Sept. 10.

In April, after years of angry correspondence between the 49ers and the city that the city's poor maintenance had led to public safety issues at the stadium, city parks officials agreed to provide the team $10.3 million in rent credits to make repairs.

City officials Monday showed off some of the stadium's old escalators, clogged with leaves and other debris, that are to be repaired or refurbished before the start of the season. The stadium's parking lot, restrooms and elevators are also being repaired.

Asked about perceptions that Monster Park is perhaps the worst stadium in the league, Glat said: "It's far from state-of-the-art at this point in time."

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