49ers Spending $150 per Voter

By Joe Kukura
|  Thursday, Jun 3, 2010  |  Updated 3:03 PM PDT
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Cheerleaders perform during an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars in San Francisco.

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The City of Santa Clara expects about 25,000 registered voters to show up at the polls Tuesday, where they'll determine the fate of the San Francisco 49ers' proposed Santa Clara stadium.

And the San Francisco 49ers will have spent $4.1 million on TV ads, radio ads, and mailers begging these people to vote yes.

We can't be sure how many Santa Clarans will actually show up to vote this Tuesday. But veteran Bay Area sportswriter Nancy Gay crunched the numbers on NFL Fanhouse, and determined that the 49ers have spent $150 per individual registered voter in Santa Clara.

I would have just sent everybody an iPod and a bottle of Pinot.

The 49ers are also outspending their opposition by an astonishing margin of 500-to-1. The opposition group Santa Clara Plays Fair points out that not only are the 49ers massively outspending them, but also that only .02% of the pro-stadium campaign contributions came from actual Santa Clara residents.

The other 99.08 percent, of course, came from a certain Mr. Jed York. Opponents see this as a recipe for fiscal disaster.

"We did a pretty extensive economic analysis," Santa Clara City Councilman Will Kennedy told KQED's Forum. "Unfortunately the costs came out significantly more than what the revenues were. The project as a  whole shows not only a low return on value, but a negative return on value."

"Every business in this city creates jobs," Councilman Kennedy said, "but those other businesses don't ask us to write a check. And they don't ask us to manage their buildings."

Councilman Kennedy is correct in that stadium would be owned by the City of Santa Clara. That arrangement hasn't work well for, say, the City of Oakland.

Ms. Gay's NFL Fanhouse article recalls how Oakland residents took a bath on the Raiders stadium. "When a scheme to sell seat licenses failed," she writes, "cash-strapped Alameda County taxpayers were stuck with a $100 million bill."

And what's one of the ways the 49ers propose to cover their end of the tab? A scheme to sell seat licenses.

It should be noted that most elected officials in Santa Clara strongly support the stadium measure, and think the dollar amounts will offset the investment quite favorably.

"It's really about what the benefits are directly to the City of Santa Clara," Mayor Patricia Mahan told KQED's Forum. "In terms of guaranteed ground rent, in terms of increased sales tax, hotel tax, all of those things that are going to be an economic stimulus to our community."

The 49ers have already provided a hefty economic stimulus to the TV and radio advertising community.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who cannot believe that the the 49ers actually ran pro-stadium ads on The Food Network.

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