Great America Tries To Block 49ers' Move

By Joe Kukura
|  Tuesday, Jun 2, 2009  |  Updated 3:00 PM PDT
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Great America Tries To Block 49ers' Move

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Great America is providing more twists and tunrs than the 49ers were hoping for.

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The San Francisco 49ers' campaign to get a new stadium built in Santa Clara had started off so smoothly, but the Great America theme park is quickly turning these proceedings into a wild ride.

Santa Clara City Council has been set to begin discussion at tonight's public meeting on terms of the agreement between the city and the 49ers. Inital response had been positive, with the 49ers agreeing to take on a larger-than-expected cut of the tab and all cost overruns.

But a surprise report out of the San Jose Mercury News says that the Great America theme park, on whose current parking lot the stadium would be built, has submitted a last-minute request for Council to delay voting on the plan -- or even reject it altogether.

Cedar Fair, an entertainment company which owns the amusement park, argues that this deal would inhibit their parking capacity and revenue flow unfairly, particularly on game days.

"Cedar Fair wishes to support the city in its efforts to reach a deal with the San Francisco 49ers," Cedar Fair attorney John Hoge wrote in a letter to Council,  "And believes that this important community goal can be realized without violating the legal and equitable rights of Cedar Fair and without rushing the term sheet through council vote without adequate time for review and comment by Cedar Fair and all interested parties."

Sources have told the Merc that internal discussions between the 49ers and Cedar Fair have the 49ers offering to pay the amusement park firm roughly $1 million annually to close on 49er game days.

Santa Clara City Council, who seem terrifically motivated to get this deal done,  are unlikely to delay or dismiss the vote based on Great America's concerns. But this is the first sign of organized community opposition, and it's well-funded opposition with high-priced attorneys.

From here onward, this debate will no longer be a walk in the park.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who cannot move until the ride comes to a complete stop.

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