Santa Clara Clears Stadium Hurdle

The prospect of the San Francisco 49ers moving to Santa Clara is  looking brighter after the City Council met Tuesday night to set a date to  release the terms of their agreement to the public and to decide whether to  send the project to the 2010 ballot.

Lisa Lang, spokeswoman for the football team, said the project has  been a long collaboration between the team and the city.

"They've worked very hard to get to the point where we are today,"  Lang said.

Santa Clara Deputy City Manager Carol McCarthy said the  negotiating parties are holding a public meeting on June 2 to review the  terms of the proposed stadium deal and possibly take action on the term  sheet, a document detailing the specifics of a stadium arrangement between  the two parties, including financing.

The meeting will also serve as an opportunity for public comment,  McCarthy said, and the term sheet will be released to the public a few days  prior to the meeting.

"It was a milestone in the sense that the completion ...  represents that the team and the city have completed negotiations at least on  a conceptual framework for an agreement to go forward," Mayor Patricia Mahan  said.

If council members approve, the term sheet will go forward to the  March 2010 election ballot where its fate will rest in the hands of Santa  Clara residents.

In the meantime, an environmental impact report is in progress to  address and mitigate issues such as traffic, air and land use and other  impacts the project could possibly have on the environment. If the term sheet  is approved, McCarthy said the next step for the city would be to develop a  Disposition and Development Agreement, a legal contract that outlines the  responsibility of the parties involved, in addition to finances.

McCarthy likened the nearly two-year negotiations process to  buying real estate. The $900 million project is the city's largest yet,  McCarthy said. And before the team can finally move to a lot next to the  Great America amusement park, issues such as financing, land lease payments  and cost overruns during the construction period still need to be ironed out.

Santa Clara officials have stipulated a stadium should not impact  tax rates, or draw money from the general fund. McCarthy speculated funding  would be contributed by the team, the National Football League and stadium  authority among other entities.

In the long run, McCarthy said, the 49ers will help give an  economic boost to local businesses and hotels and also potentially help  create new jobs.

Aside from the dedicated few who have voiced their opposition to  the project at council meetings, Mahan said public response has been  overwhelmingly favorable.

"They ask when are they coming?" she said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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