The San Francisco 49ers seem as excited about building a shared stadium as they would be about taking their sisters to prom.
At an NFL fan event in Los Angeles on Monday, San Francisco 49ers President and Owner Jed York commented that the 49ers are considering plans for a joint stadium with the Oakland Raiders. Both teams currently play in two of the oldest and least-desirable stadiums in the NFL and have been campaigning for new stadiums. A similar plan has worked well in New Jersey where the Jets share ground with the Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium.
But with plans--and funding--well underway for a new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara, the San Francisco team is more than a little hesitant about the idea of sharing. And the Raiders could find themselves in the back seat as a junior partner.
Last year, Santa Clara residents voted in a $114 million commitment to support the construction of a local stadium for the 49ers, and the team has already sold $140 million worth of suites. But with only half of the billion-dollar projected cost raised, the NFL is pushing for a partnership. “We’ve put our teams together,” York said at the Los Angeles event. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to find the right deal that fits for both teams, but we’re certainly going to get a look at those options.”
The proposed Santa Clara stadium could be the only deal for both teams, but it might be a better one for the 49ers. Since the team spearheaded the project, the 49ers are calling dibs.
"We are committed to the Santa Clara site," Steve Weakland, director of corporate communications for the 49ers, told The Huffington Post. "We’ve put a lot of resources into laying the groundwork for having a stadium there and I can tell you that it will first and foremost be a 49ers stadium."
What does that mean for the Raiders? "It’s too early to speculate on hypothetical situations," said Weakland.
But it might mean the 49ers could make the Raiders a junior partner, as opposed to arranging a 50/50 split. And with little funding and a lease that runs out in 2013, the Raiders may have no choice. "We’re not counting on sharing our stadium with another team," said Weakland. "But if that ends up being the best thing for all parties involved, that’s something we’ll have to consider. Raising a billion dollars is a large and complicated puzzle."
When asked about the possibility of a junior partnership, the Raiders neither confirmed nor denied the idea, but seemed surprisingly trusting of their BFFs across the Bay. "We have a strong and productive working relationship with the 49ers," Raiders CEO Amy Trask told Huffpost Wednesday morning as she boarded a plane to Atlanta for an NFL meeting. "We also have a willingness to keep an open mind."
It sounds like when the Chronicle's Vittorio Tafur said the development could have "a long-range impact on the Bay Area landscape," he wasn't exaggerating.