The Giants could tell the 49ers a thing or two about running a stadium proposal past Santa Clara voters. A short primer: Before asking for money, strap on a hard hat and make sure the motorcade is poised for a hasty retreat.
The 49ers struck a tentative deal with the Santa Clara City Council last week for a new football stadium to be built roughly midway between the team's training headquarters and Great America's Psycho Mouse roller coaster.
"Nobody can look at this deal," team president Jed York said, "and say, 'The 49ers came in and the city caved.'""
That may be because nobody can look at this deal. It was reached in a closed session, and some details are being withheld until May 29 — of this year, it is presumed.
One thing is certain — the 49ers will want help funding the proposed 68,500-seat stadium. So far we know that aid will come in the form of a subsidy from the city's redevelopment agency, and funds from new taxes on hotel guests.
Again, the Giants could provide historical perspective. In 1990, team owner Bob Lurie was hot for a 120-acre parcel near Great America. Santa Clara County voters were asked to approve a 1 percent utility tax to raise $15 million a year to help fund the project.
What was the average monthly utility bill for a single-family household in 1990, maybe $100? That would have penciled out to $12 per year. Lurie was cautiously optimistic.
Measure G went down. Not hard, but hard enough. That $12 per year? Deal breaker.
True, the Giants were dealing with the county, not the city. But the Giants were operating in a favorable economic climate. The 49ers are dealing with a city that is about to siphon $12.7 million from its emergency fund because of the recession.
York claims the 49ers facilitated the quasi-agreement by taking on additional risk. But the Santa Clara voter isn't going to be focused on that when this issue hits the ballot. That voter will be focused on the city's obligation and asking, "Is there a dollar sign in front of it? Then put me down for a no."
Further complicating the situation is that after four failed stadium ballot measures, the Giants finally built their new digs with private money. And: New York's Giants and Jets are jointly and privately funding a $1.6 billion football stadium in New Jersey.
The Giants could tell the 49ers all about complicating factors. And they could tell the 49ers this: The value of a San Francisco franchise is highest when it's located in San Francisco.
In hindsight, what a great break that the first four stadium proposals the Giants sought were voted down. Sure, the experience probably took 10 years off Lurie's life. But look where they are now, snugged up against McCovey Cove, the Bay Bridge almost close enough to touch, Tony Bennett crooning at the end of every game.
It wouldn't have been the same at 7th and Townsend, where long home runs would have splashed down on the southbound lanes of 280. Even the 2nd and King site would have pushed them a block off the water. North San Jose or adjacent to Great America? It might have worked, but not nearly as spectacularly.
San Francisco has a conceptual plan for a stadium site. Granted, the proposed Hunter's Point redevelopment is as problematic as any megaproject involving toxic clean-up and city politics. But if York and his parents could look 10 years into future, they might see the value of having San Francisco's first big league sports team playing on a glorious only-in-San Francisco setting surrounded by water, fog and 75 years of tradition.
Even if they don't, it says here Santa Clara voters will explain it to them in no uncertain terms first chance they get.
Contact Gary Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.