Death of Redevelopment Complicates New Football Stadium

Monday, June 25, 2012
Artist's conception of 49ers stadium in Santa Clara


Like Lucy pulling the ball back before Charlie Brown could kick it, Santa Clara County officials unexpectedly withheld $30 million in money pledged for a new San Francisco 49ers stadium.

Construction began in April and the stadium is set to open in 2014. The 49ers are leaving Candlestick Park, and San Francisco proper, where they’ve played since 1971. The funding accounts for less than 3% of the stadium’s $1.2 billion cost but its loss will in all likelihood result in a flurry of lawsuits.

In 2010, Santa Clara voters approved using $40 million in redevelopment money to build the stadium. Using tax-generated redevelopment funds in specially designated development zones to build stadiums has been a contentious issue but was significantly complicated, if not rendered moot, by a law passed last year that abolished 400 redevelopment agencies as of February 1. Oakland, San Diego, San Jose and Los Angeles were all angling for stadiums that might utilize redevelopment funds when the state Supreme Court upheld its legality in December.    

In a complicated transaction that will no doubt be at the heart of future law suits, Santa Clara’s redevelopment agency had apparently doled out $10 million for the stadium and was subsequently loaned $30 million by the developers with the understanding that it would be recycled to the stadium project through redevelopment tax-generated revenues. But those revenues are gone with redevelopment’s demise, and the Santa Clara Oversight Board—representatives from the mayor, the county and education who were empowered to help wrap up the agency’s businees—voted 4-3 to keep the cash.

County tax collector George Putris, who sits on the board, said it was his impression that the stadium would have small television screens built into seat backs at a cost of $50 million and he thought the money could be better spent on schools. Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews said a deal was a deal and it was the wrong thing to do, and City Attorney Ren Nosky questioned whether notification guarantees of the open meeting Brown Act had been met.  

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Santa Clara County Suddenly Yanks $30 million in Tax Funds from San Francisco 49ers Stadium (by Mike Rosenberg, Contra Costa Times)

Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Santa Clara (City of Santa Clara)

California's RDA Ruling Could Affect A's, 49ers, Chargers Stadium Plans (Field of Schemes)

49ers, Santa Clara County Relationship Not Off to Good Start (by David Fucillo, SB Nation)

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