By Alex Girda, Associate Editor, and Paul Rosta, Senior Editor
After years of false starts, a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers is on the verge of becoming a reality. In the wake of key approvals by city officials and the project’s sponsoring entity, contractors expect to start work this summer on the 68,500-seat venue in Santa Clara, some 45 miles south the team’s longtime home in Candlestick Park.
The project reached a major milestone last month when the Santa Clara Stadium Authority signed off on the $1 billion project. The Santa Clara City Council approved an $878 million construction contract with a joint venture of Turner Construction Co. and Devcon Construction Inc. On March 5, a state superior court judge gave the project an additional boost by turning down a demand from stadium opponents to put the project’s $850 million financing package to a public vote, the Reuters news service reported.
A consortium that includes Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp. and U.S. Bankcorp is the project’s primary lender and will provide $450 million to the Santa Clara Stadium Authority and $400 million to an affiliate of the 49ers, Reuters noted. The National Football League is lending the team another $200 million.
Officials reached agreement on another major issue Feb. 28 when they signed off on a ground lease that will contribute an estimated $200 million to city coffers over 40 years, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The city will earn about $1 million in rental income annually for hosting pro football games, and that could double if the NFL’s Raiders leave nearby Oakland for the new stadium. The remaining $155 million will come from Santa Clara’s half-share of revenue from concerts and other events.
The Turner-Devcon team expects to start construction in July and complete the project in time for the NFL’s 2014 season. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the contractors will earn a $5 million bonus for finishing the stadium on time and face a $6 million penalty for every game missed because of delays.