49ers Win! "Measure J" passes in Santa Clara

It's only June, but the 49ers have already scored their biggest victory of 2010, with the citizens of Santa Clara voting "Yes" on Measure J by a count of 11,231 to 7,609 (59.6 percent). It is but the first of many hurdles for the team to clear on its way to having shovels in the ground by 2012 and the stadium ready to use by the 2014 season.

"For almost a decade and a half, the San Francisco 49ers and our faithful fans have dreamed about playing at home in a world-class stadium, and now those dreams are closer to reality," said team President and CEO Jed York. "We can now proceed with our plans to build the premier, open-air sports and entertainment venue in the world."

Tuesday's victory came, in part, thanks to an impressive and collaborative grass roots campaign effort. Over 700 people from Santa Clara and throughout the Bay Area volunteered their time and efforts in support of the election.

"We are as thrilled by the results as we are humbled by the effort that so many people put into its success," York added.

On the heels of Tuesday's victory, the team today announced the launch of a website for fans: www.49ersNewStadium.com. The website's purpose is to help fans understand the process for securing seats at the new stadium, including a link that will let them sign up for a waiting list if they're not already season ticket holders at Candlestick Park. The website also includes the latest images of the stadium design and answers to frequently asked questions about the new stadium plans.

The team has hired the famous architecture firm HNTB to design the new stadium and promises to use resources of its Silicon Valley location to incorporate the latest technologies to give fans the best in-game stadium experience in the NFL. York promised that the stadium will be "the premier, open-air sports and entertainment venue in the world," while initial blueprints call for the stadium to have one of the largest lower seating bowls in the NFL. Luxury suites will be stacked on one side of the field, allowing the upper deck to be closer to the action.

Of course getting the votes from the city is only step one of the process. The team still needs to make sure all the "i"s are dotted and "t"s are crossed in their Disposition and Development agreement with the city of Santa Clara and that their plans pass muster with the various city and state environmental agencies.

"There's still a lot of things to go through with the environmental process, the city process and some of the things in California to make sure this project can move forward and meet all the criteria," York said.

After everything with the proposed site is approved and agreed upon, the city will form a Stadium Authority, which will work with the team to fund $330 million of the project through naming rights for the stadium, seat licenses and vendor contracts. The team and the NFL will then combine to come up with $493 million toward the financing of the stadium. Though there is no current mechanism for the NFL to assist in the building of stadiums, York said he is confident that issue will be addressed in the next collective bargaining agreement. The owners and the players union are currently in the last year of the current CBA.

When asked if the 49ers need assistance from the NFL to get this stadium built, York answered, "Yes, and we fully expect to get it. They've supported a lot of the stadiums that have been built in the past, and we expect there will be support in the future."

York added, "I talked to Commissioner (Roger) Goodell and he's said he wants to find a way to continue to support stadiums and that's going to be part of the next collective bargaining agreement. And I think that's something necessary for the entire league to make sure we build new stadiums for our fans."

Finally, to those of you who are curious, York promised that the team will continue to be known as the "San Francisco 49ers" despite the location of their future home. He also said that the possibility still exists for the team to share the stadium with the Oakland Raiders at some point, though that organization is presently focused on the feasibility of building a stadium of their own in Oakland.

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