As expected, the Santa Clara city council last night rejected petitions calling for a new referendum on a proposed $1.2 billion San Francisco 49ers stadium, ruling that while enough signatures were collected, the issue is not “referendable” because the project was already approved in a public vote in 2010.
Several people who spoke at what sounds like a raucous council hearing, however, raised questions about whether what the council passed in December is what voters approved two years ago:
But dozens of opponents showed up in force to complain they were “ripped off.” They brought glossy 2010 campaign materials funded by the 49ers that showed the team, NFL and stadium revenues would be responsible for 88 percent of the project’s cost.
“That is what this community bought, but that is not what you agreed to last month,” stadium opponent Kate Grant said, holding up the campaign flier. “The terms of this agreement have changed dramatically.”
The dispute is now almost certainly headed for court, which if history is any guide could take a while. With the 49ers hoping to break ground this spring, whether the referendum drive can stop the stadium from going ahead could depend on whether a judge is willing to grant an injunction against the project continuing — though it’ll also be interesting to see how the bond market responds to a bond issue whose legality is being challenged in court. If nothing else, that planned 2014 opening date now seems even more optimistic than it did last month.