So now that the San Francisco 49ers have a deal in place with the Santa Clara City Council, it's pretty much written in stone that they'll move to Santa Clara for the 2014 season, right? This all but guarantees that the team will relocate after building their new stadium in the current Great America parking lot, right?
As Johnny Carson might have said, "Not so fast, Drop Tower Scream Zone breath..."
Whether you're a Candlestick faithful or a rabidly pro-Santa Clara Niner fan, realize that this game isn't over yet. In many critical ways, this game hasn't even kicked off.
While the 49ers do have the framework of a deal with Santa Clara City Council -- and an incredibly supportive Santa Clara mayor -- they have not yet allowed any details of this deal to become public. Not one single south bay NIMBY has had a chance to look this proposal over, voice concerns, or organize dissent. Things had looked pretty good for Lew Wolff's proposed move of the Oakland A's to Fremont at this stage of the game, too.
But these details will emerge this week, as the plan is made public Friday for a Tuesday night (June 2) City Council meeting. At that point, citizens can comment and council will vote on whether to put this thing on a March 2010 ballot.
It appears City Council has gotten legitimate, genuine financial concessions out of the 49ers on this. And the Yorks can continue to say that there will be "no net negative impact to the city’s general fund, and no new taxes for the citizens of Santa Clara." But that there is some carefully evasive wording. The city is still intending to subsidize the effort, to the tune of nearly $90 million, according to Mike Swift of the Mercury News. And notice that this "no new taxes" business is "for the citizens of Santa Clara" -- Gary Peterson notes in the Contra Costa Times that Santa Clara still has every intention of levying new taxes, they'll simply be directed toward hotel guests.
San Franciscans are counting on these financial details emerging, combined with a public relations effort from familiar faces to keep the team. But count Mayor Gavin Newsom out of this effort. Mark Purdy at the Merc has learned that Mayor Newsom told Roger Goodell last week that San Francisco has priorities ahead of a new stadium.
Translation: "I'm running for governor, and I don't want to lose any South Bay votes."
San Francisco has Carmen Policy running it's PR efforts to keep the 49ers in San Francisco. Now you may still blame Policy for some costly salary cap violations. You may even still blame Policy for a horse head that showed up between your bed sheets a few years ago. But he is an ace with the public relations, and you can count on him to capitalize shrewdly on any missteps or hurdles in the Santa Clara development process.
The 49ers are singularly determined to move to Santa Clara, but they picked a bad time to ask a municipality for $90 million. Critics will surely point out how the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees have built new stadiums entirely with private funds. The team may have a soild game plan in place, but this game hasn't even really started.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who thinks that people still get Johnny Carson jokes.