The pain of a home NFC Championship Game loss was probably dulled somewhat for Jed York today, as the NFL pitched in with the last round of funding needed to break ground on a new stadium in Santa Clara.
York took to Twitter to announce the NFL’s decision:
After years of talk about a new home for the Niners — both in Santa Clara and San Francisco — most have taken a “let’s see them actually start building something before we get too excited” point of view. Shovels haven’t met dirt quite yet, but according to reports like this one from Matt Maiocco, the time to build is getting close.
In December, the 49ers secured $850 million in loans for the $1.02 billion stadium through Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and U.S. Bank. But those loans were contingent on the NFL agreeing to finance at least $150 million toward the stadium.
The rest of the cost will be covered by a hotel tax and Santa Clara’s redevelopment funds.
“With the NFL’s muscle now behind the new stadium, we are moving forward,” York said in a statement. “I expect an official ground-breaking ceremony very soon. Get your hard hats ready; we are embarking on the path to the next generation of 49ers football.”
The 49ers expect official groundbreaking could happen as early as the first quarter of this year. The stadium is expected to be ready for the 2015 season, with the possibility it could be completed a year earlier.
When York does his “hard hat photo op,” will the hat have a Niners logo on the side? I’m going to go with “yes.”
While the NFL might prefer the 49ers and Oakland Raiders to make some sort of arrangement where the two teams would share a new stadium, a la the New York Giants and New York Jets, they aren’t going to force the two teams to share. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the “G4 loan” wasn’t contingent on the Raiders playing their games in the South Bay when the Niners are out of town.
There had been speculation the NFL would press the 49ers and Oakland Raiders to share the Santa Clara stadium in order to secure the financing, but York said in an email that there is no link to the $200 million contribution. “We’ve been asked to keep the communications open,” York said.
It’s tough to discern exactly what that means, other than the NFL would prefer York not give the Raiders the silent treatment.
It would appear unlikely that the Raiders and 49ers will share a new facility in Santa Clara, which isn’t surprising. Imagining the Raiders playing games in a stadium covered in red and gold paint splashes and Niners memorabilia is nearly impossible.
Which begs the question: if the Raiders aren’t going to play in Santa Clara, how much longer will they stick around? The Oakland Coliseum is nearly as decrepit as Candlestick Park, and Oakland hasn’t even begun discussions on a new stadium. However, unless the Raiders plan on moving back to Los Angeles sometime in the next decade, they’d probably be best advised to at least try and work something out with the 49ers. Since a new stadium in Santa Clara looks closer to reality than ever, the interplay between both Bay Area NFL franchises could provide the most intrigue in this developing story.