In a major blow to opponents of Santa Clara’s $1 billion stadium plan for the San Francisco 49ers, a county judge has ruled that the ballot measure approved in January forcing a new referendum on the deal is invalid, agreeing with the team and city that the changes in the financial structure of the plan are a mere “administrative” change, and thus not subject to a public vote.
The group Santa Clara Plays Fair, which led the referendum drive, says it’s considering an appeal. 49ers spokesperson Steve Weakland called Judge Peter Kirwan’s ruling preventing a public vote “a victory for the citizens of Santa Clara” because it will “protect their vote in June 2010 [when] they said yes to a new stadium.”
With shovels already hitting the ground, it’s going to be increasingly difficult for opponents to throw any more roadblocks in the way of this deal, unless they can get this ruling overturned on appeal even more quickly than Kirwan reached his decision. Beyond that, as Newballpark.org notes: “If there’s a dangerous precedent, it’s that any municipality [that] chooses to build a stadium in the Bay Area can choose to be purposefully vague or obfuscating when writing up stadium deal terms, get a referendum passed, then fill in the blanks later.” Not that anybody would ever do that.