The Santa Clara stadium for the San Francisco 49ers may be going well in most respects, but at least there’s something for residents to be legitimately upset about:
After the San Francisco 49ers rallied support for their new stadium by promising to pay for new youth soccer fields, the NFL team isn’t following through with its part of the deal — and taxpayers will be left footing the multimillion dollar bill…
Jed York, owner of the 49ers, told the soccer league in a letter two years ago that the team would fund replacement fields. But the team’s front office shocked the soccer league last week by telling them the Niners had abandoned those plans.
“You feel betrayed or lied to,” said Matt Heintz, president of the 1,500-member Santa Clara Youth Soccer League, which had supported the new stadium that voters approved public financing for in 2010. “It sounds like they got what they wanted, they got the stadium built — and pushed us aside, brushed us under the rug.”
The current youth soccer fields won’t be usable during football season because of 49ers fan traffic, and the cost of just studying how to build new fields is estimated to be about $2 million. (The cost of actually acquiring and building the fields is unknown.) Mayor Jamie Matthews claims that the project won’t use general fund money, but it’s tough to say how he knows this, since he doesn’t even know how much it will cost, let alone how it will be paid for.
I was puzzling over why the 49ers are suddenly drawing a line in a sand over this issue — even if the cost turns out to be several million dollars, that’s a rounding error on a billion-dollar-plus project — until I got to the last paragraph of the Mercury News article:
But last week one of York’s vice presidents in the front office said in a letter to the soccer league that the local school fields they had looked into upgrading are “no longer available.” It said now the 49ers would only fund replacement fields if the soccer league was willing to give up its prized soccer park to the Niners to use for VIP stadium parking.
So from the sound of it, this is less the 49ers owners inexplicably backing away from a commitment, and more them suddenly demanding a land swap in exchange because as we know, they’re desperate for parking. Which is still backing out of a promise, but at least it’s explicable.