The San Francisco 49ers received overwhelming approval from voters Tuesday to begin construction of a 68,500-seat stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., about 35 miles south of antiquated Candlestick Park.
An estimated 25,000 registered voters in the hub of Silicon Valley voted yes for the 49ers-backed Measure J by 59.61 percent, giving the storied NFL franchise city funding and access to a parking lot adjacent to Great America theme park – a satellite lot that sits across from the team’s headquarters and practice facility.
While backers of a new San Francisco stadium site at Hunters Point, led by former 49ers president Carmen Policy, vow to maintain their campaign to keep the 49ers in their namesake city, the team spent more than $4 million on a campaign that began in 2006 to win over voters in Santa Clara, and received the backing of the city’s business and political leaders in doing so.
Final estimates indicate the 49ers may have doled out as much as $200 per voter to secure a new stadium site in the South Bay city of 110,000 residents, just north of San Jose.
The plan also received the approval of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who promised the 49ers would get top consideration for a future Super Bowl at the new stadium, which is scheduled to be ready for the 2014 season. Construction is set to begin in 2012.
By contrast, the stadium’s opponents in Santa Clara spent about $20,000 in a futile effort to convince voters that the project would drain the city’s already taxed general fund and end up a financial risk rather than a revenue generator.
After more than a decade of failed attempts to find a suitable site in San Francisco to replace aging Candlestick Park, the 49ers chose the Santa Clara location because of its freeway access, fewer roadblocks to construction and the fact that much of the team’s season ticket base lives in Santa Clara County.
While the precinct results trickled in late Tuesday night, 49ers president and CEO Jed York — the face of the Santa Clara stadium initiative — talked about his door-to-door campaign efforts last weekend.
“The most common question was probably, ‘Is the name still going to be the San Francisco 49ers?’ and the answer is yes. We’re the San Francisco 49ers,” York said.