SAN FRANCISCO
11/16/2011 01:59 pm ET Updated 6 days ago

49er Stadium Construction Begins: Santa Clara Approves $10 million For Prep Work (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Until now, plans for a new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara have been just that -- plans. But this week, the dollars are on the table.

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara City Council approved $10 million to prepare the proposed site for the construction. According to San Jose Mercury News, the project will include prep work like building sidewalks, moving utilities, adding parking spaces and access roads and rerouting storm drains, electricity and water: everything needed to ready the site for a $1 billion state-of-the-art stadium.

(SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOS AND VIDEO)

"Although it's not the big grand opening, it's sort of a soft groundbreaking," said Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews, according to the Mercury News.

The approval means Santa Clara is one big step closer to finalizing its claim as the new home of the 49ers.

"It's another sign, and a major step in the process, that the stadium is coming online," said 49ers spokesman Steve Weakland.

But with funding for the stadium still up in the air, not everyone is excited about the announcement. According to the San Francisco Business Times, the city will have to borrow $6 million from the 49ers just to cover the initial $10 million project.

"Why are we borrowing money when our city is so cash-strapped that we have employee furlough days every month, library cutbacks, reduction in staff wages, etc.?" wrote Bill Bailey, the treasurer of Santa Clara Plays Fair, in an email blast to the group, according to SFGate. The organization is a grassroots group opposing the stadium.

"We see that [the $10 million approval] as the beginning of the cycle of indebtedness," said Bailey to SFGate.

Critics also pointed to the exorbitant price tag of the stadium -- a price tag that funding has not yet met. If the 49ers cannot raise the $1 billion needed to complete the project, Santa Clara's $10 million investment will have been wasted.

"They're wasting our money," said resident Deborah Bess to ABC. "I think the people of Santa Clara should be absolutely appalled that they are moving forward with this without having the proper things in place."

But supporters of the plan reminded critics that plans for the stadium were approved by voters last June. "This is nothing new," said City Councilwoman Lisa Gillmor to SFGate. In the election, Santa Clara agreed to spend a maximum of $40 million on the project, with the 49ers footing the rest of the bill. Gillmore continued: "This is a really great movement forward for our stadium."

Check out photos of the stadium plans in our slideshow. Then watch ABC's coverage of the $10 million approval in the video below:

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