Ending a "contentious four-year battle over parking for a new 49ers stadium, Great America on Friday agreed to allow the team and Santa Clara to build the home field on one of its smaller lots and let fans park next door," according to Mike Rosenberg of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. But it is going to "cost the local football franchise $12.5 million." The deal is "essentially the last and most significant piece needed to solve a stadium parking puzzle, and finally resolves the theme park's steadfast opposition to giving up its land for stadium construction." As part of the deal, Cedar Fair, which "owns Great America, agreed to drop its long-standing lawsuit that sought to block the $1 billion project." Santa Clara, which "owns the land under the theme park, has agreed to give up untold revenue by allowing Great America to keep more theme park profits during boom years." With Cedar Fair's opposition gone, officials said that they can "begin construction within a year as long as the NFL approves $150 million for the plan, as expected." The City Council is "expected to approve" the deal tomorrow. The lot would "provide about 30 percent of the 19,000 parking spots expected to be available within walking distance of the 68,500-seat stadium" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/7).
VOICING OPPOSITION: In S.F., Victoria Colliver noted Santa Clara residents "opposed to plans to build a San Francisco 49ers stadium officially started collecting signatures Saturday in an effort to get the city to reconsider its decision to take out an $850 million construction loan." The grassroots group -- Santa Clara Plays Fair -- "hopes to collect 4,700 valid signatures by Jan. 18 to qualify for a referendum or persuade the Santa Clara City Council to rescind its loan commitment, which was approved in a unanimous vote last month." The stadium foes said that details of the financing, "including the size of the loan, weren't disclosed until last month, so the nearly 60 percent of voters that approved the ballot measure to build a new stadium in June 2010 didn't have all the information" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/8).
SALES LAUNCH: The Santa Clara Stadium Authority and Legends Sales & Marketing yesterday announced the launch of Club Seat and Stadium Builders License sales for the new stadium in Santa Clara. The launch will begin with a seat allocation process for current lower bowl Candlestick season-ticket holders. The SBLs for the majority of the 9,000 Club Seats are priced at $20,000 and $30,000. The 49ers also announced pricing for game tickets in the Club sections. The team said that ticket prices on the Club Seats will range from $325-$375 per game, depending on the location. All sellable seats in the new stadium will include an SBL, a one-time payment that gives buyers control of their seats for 49ers games and is good for the life of the building (49ers).
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration and legislative leaders are “quietly and at times forcefully telling the Minnesota Vikings that the $1.1 billion Arden Hills stadium plan is unlikely to work,” according to sources cited by Baird Helgeson of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. That advice has “prompted team officials to re-examine previously spurned sites in Minneapolis.” Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said Saturday that legislators have “asked the team to explore the other sites, but he maintained that the Arden Hills site is ‘ideal.’" Dayton has “made it plain that he expects to arrive at a single site and method of funding for the stadium by the time the Legislature convenes Jan. 24.” He has “given Minneapolis and Ramsey County until 5 p.m. Thursday to make their best offers -- a move stadium watchers say will highlight Ramsey's lack of financing options.” But Bagley said that the county's plan to “raise the restaurant food and beverage tax by 3 percent is viable.” On Friday, Ramsey County opponents “launched a petition drive to block the county from raising money to finance the stadium.” The case for Arden Hills appears “even tougher at the Capitol, where the Republican-controlled Legislature has firmly opposed tax increases and shown no willingness to let local governments skirt public votes on sales taxes.” Sources said that there “is no grand plan to force the Vikings to build in Minneapolis, just ongoing attempts to constrict the debate to what is considered viable” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/8).
OPPOSING TAXES: In St. Paul, Tad Vezner noted the No Stadium Tax Coalition "is trying to organize a petition to let voters amend the Ramsey County charter to prohibit such public funding without a referendum first being held.” To get a proposed charter amendment on the ballot, the group would “need 5 percent of the county's registered voters, or 14,875 signatures.” The soonest it could appear would be the “next general election, in November.” The proposed amendment would “require the county to get a majority vote from taxpayers to ‘finance a sports facility to be used by a professional team, or to subsidize the operations of a professional sports team’ and would not require a review by the county” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/7).
Cellphone users attending Saturday's Saints-Lions NFC Wild Card game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome should have had “an easier time sending photos and messages to friends, thanks to AT&T's completion of a $10 million ‘distributed antenna system’ in the Dome,” according to Mark Schleifstein of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. AT&T Senior PR Manager Sue Sperry said that the system actually “extends coverage serving older 3-G and new 4-G phones to Champions Square.” She added that a 70-mile network of cables is “connecting the new system's nerve center in a Superdome garage with 950 antennas.” The new antenna system “is the equivalent of 200 traditional cell towers.” Sperry said, "It's the largest system of its kind in the world, and has twice the capacity of the system that was recently installed in Cowboy Stadium." Verizon has “agreed to piggyback onto the system, but the company must install its own equipment to make that happen.” Sperry said that the system is “available for use by other cellphone companies, but none has agreed to do so yet.” AT&T is being charged a “$175,000 annual licensing fee to cover the space needed for the system in the Dome.” The other cell companies will “pay AT&T a fee for a share of the installation costs, and licensing fees to SMG,” the Dome's operator (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/7).
Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg will meet with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster this week “to discuss the stalled stadium situation,” according to Marc Topkin of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Sternberg has been hearing “a lot in recent months from Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and other top officials about the likelihood of a resolution.” Sternberg: "We had to fight some things off. It was a lot to deal with, with Major League Baseball questioning how we're going about things here. Not so much running (the team), but just what the future holds. … They're wondering. How? What do we do?" With stadium issues “resolved in Miami and nearing a resolution in Oakland, baseball officials may not be as patient with the Tampa Bay situation” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/7). Sternberg said that he talked to Selig and MLB officials “about the Rays' attendance and progress on securing a new stadium.” MLB.com’s Bill Chastain noted the Rays' stadium agreement “runs through 2027 and Sternberg has stated publicly that the team cannot remain at Tropicana Field until the agreement expires.” He also has said that he “would like to be able to look outside of Pinellas County for possible future stadium sites for the team.” Foster has been “adamant that the team look exclusively in St. Petersburg” (MLB.com, 1/7). A TAMPA BAY TIMES editorial stated it is “past time for Foster and Sternberg to find a way to advance a conversation that will require plenty of public input.” The new year “offers a fresh start,” and the meeting between the two is “a hopeful sign in the stadium stalemate.” The editorial: “It's not exactly the Paris peace talks, but it's a start” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/7).