Better put on a helmet and some pads: It’s Migden vs. Alquist over the fate of the San Francisco 49ers–and you can follow the Capitol play-by-play without a season ticket.
The Niners’ season is over but their fight for a new stadium is just heating up. With the team’s dream to open a new stadium by 2012, the battle between those trying keep them in San Francisco and those who would lure the team to neighboring Santa Clara has now moved beyond the Bay Area and into the state Capitol and the U.S. Senate. And San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who wants to keep the team, has proposed a new option: a stadium in Hunters Point–if his Candlestick Point proposal falls through.
Senator Carole Migden’s aptly numbered SB 49 is likely to be introduced within the next week. She says it would prohibit any city or local entity from using “tax breaks and land giveaways” to steal an NFL team from a neighboring community.
In Washington, D.C., U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein will be introducing legislation later this month that would require the 49ers to get permission from San Francisco to retain their name if they moved to Santa Clara.
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, considered drafting a bill to give San Francisco a measure of control over the team’s name, but then he discovered that the NFL owns the trademark, he said.
For their part, the 49ers have retained the services of veteran Sacramento lobbyist Kevin Sloat and his firm to fight Senator Migden’s legislation, said team spokeswoman Lisa Lang.
And while Lang said that staying in San Francisco is their priority, Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan expects the Niners to present a formal relocation proposal when they go before the Santa Clara City Council on Tuesday.
January is shaping up, therefore, as an important month for the future of the Niners, since owners Denise and Dr. John York last posted a letter on the Niners’ Web site nearly two months ago that rocked the team’s fans.
In their letter, the Yorks–who are no relation to the York family that publishes Capitol Weekly–notified fans that they had decided against moving forward on plans for a stadium and mixed-use development at Candlestick Point. Instead, they said they were shifting their focus to Santa Clara, where Niners’ headquarters and the team’s practice facility are based.
The Yorks’ letter cited “massive infrastructure and public-transit needs,” and bemoaned construction of “one of the largest parking garages in the world” that stymied tailgate parties, plus a time-consuming public-approval process at Candlestick Point.
Senator Migden’s bill is modeled after past anti-big-box legislation that has prevented sales-tax hungry cities from offering financial incentives to stores and auto dealerships in neighboring towns. “A professional football stadium is a huge real-estate development. It is costly and complicated,” said Hallye Jordan, press director for Sen. Migden. “The senator’s intent