THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
There is an awful lot of hype that is surrounding this Sunday's National Football Conference championship game between the East Rutherford, New Jersey-based New York Giants and the soon to be Santa Clara 49ers. Although, the franchise will more than likely keep the San Francisco 49ers brand name when the team is relocated down the 101 to the southern part of the San Francisco Bay.
The championship contest according to the radio barkers, the television talking heads and the sports scribes is the most important game that both teams will play this year and there will be other hyperbole as game time gets closer.
But for the 49ers ownership led by former Wall Street employee Jed York, the truth is that the Giants-49ers matchup is not the most important game of the year or maybe the 21st century. Jed and his parents all of a sudden may have seen the planned Santa Clara football facility and the hope of getting the 49ers franchise into a cash cow stadium that would be underwritten by Santa Clara municipal funding tripped up at the three yard line by a defender that may have caught them by surprise.
Santa Clara Plays Fair.
Things were going very well for the Yorks. Santa Clara residents went to the polls in June 2010 and approved Measure J which allowed Santa Clara to contribute funding to the football stadium which would be built to house the 49ers and possibly the Oakland Raiders. Santa Clara would throw in $79 million and another $35 million would come from a "hotel investment" but the Yorks and the National Football League (with a $150 million loan) would be responsible for the rest of the money in the estimated cost of building the $923 million facility.
The Yorks though were sort of told in 2010 by the NFL not to find stadium money with a March 1, 2011 lockout looming because the owners were crying poverty and if the Yorks found stadium money while the owners were asking players to throw in a few million or so, it would undercut the owners argument that they had financial difficulties.
The Yorks didn't seek financing during the lockout. The city eventually revised the deal with the Yorks and removed the Yorks' financial risk and decided to take on the responsibility of financing the building. Santa Clara was on the hook for $850 million instead of the original $79 million which voters approved in June 2010.
The stadium plan seemed to go hand-in-hand with the 49ers season. The money was guaranteed by Santa Clara and the franchise was winning. But something went awry on Wednesday.