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SANTA CLARA, CA-The San Francisco 49ers and City of Santa Clara began negotiations today for the development of a new $919-million NFL stadium adjacent to the Great America theme park. The City Council signed off on the feasibility study Tuesday night and authorized the city manager to begin negotiations, which were scheduled to begin Wednesday morning along with the state-mandated environmental review process.

The San Francisco 49ers currently play their games at Candlestick Park, but its headquarters and practice facility is already located in Santa Clara. The team’s Candlestick lease runs through the 2008 season. The team holds three five-year options that could extend it through 2023.

The football team first announced its plans to relocate to Santa Clara in early November 2006, saying that plans for a new stadium at Candlestick lacked among other things the surface parking for fans’ traditional pre- and post-game tailgate parties. Shortly after the team’s announcement, San Francisco scrapped its bid for the 2016 Olympics. The bid envisioned hosting the opening and closing ceremonies at the new stadium.

In March 2007, in an attempt to turn the team’s focus back into the city for which it is named, the city and its redevelopment partner, Lennar Corp., announced a revised plan that would move the stadium to Hunter’s Point, a contaminated 500-acre site the Navy is cleaning up and conveying to the city’s redevelopment agency in stages. The stadium would be encircled with expansive fields of reinforced grass that would be used for tailgating on game days and for sports and other recreation the rest of the year. The Navy promised to expedite the clean-up and conveyance of the proposed 27-acre stadium parcel by June 2009 to facilitate the football team’s goal of playing in a new stadium in 2012.

The incentive the city and Lennar offered up include the city donating the land to the team and Lennar contributing $100 million in cash and also helping to finance stadium infrastructure (parking, roads, utilities). The 49ers said around the time of the announcement that the proposal represented progress but it would continue to work with Santa Clara.

Lennar and city officials say the redevelopment of Candlestick Point and Hunter’s Point will occur regardless of the 49ers ultimate decision and that it will be financed with private money and borrowings against future property taxes to be generated from the redevelopment. Lennar is planning to complete the redevelopment by 2021. In addition to the proposed stadium, the redevelopment includes two million sf of office space, 700,000 sf of retail and entertainment uses, 9,000 housing units (25% affordable), 350 acres of open space and an 8,000-to 12,000-seat performance venue.

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