Jed York was so immersed in the plan to build a new stadium, the 49ers President and CEO went door-to-door in several Santa Clara communities to spread the word on the finer details of the project.
On Wednesday, York explained some of the experiences he encountered in fielding questions from the local media over a conference call.
York’s hands-on involvement was a matter of him wanting to better understand the concerns of local voters, and also ease them of those issues by stating the facts that were involved in the proposed project.
York listened to the apprehensions and tried to alleviate them as he saw fit.
In one circumstance, York encountered a local voter who simply refused to support the project because of his allegiance to the Dallas Cowboys.
York didn’t let the resistance stop him.
He simply informed the voter of the all the benefits that would come along with a new stadium. But in the end, York thought it would be best to have the words come from a high-ranking official within the Cowboys organization.
York figured, who better to explain the benefits of a world-class facility, than someone with the Cowboys, who have already hosted several marquee events in their building in just one year of operating.
York explained the unique encounter.
“There was a voter when I was out canvassing that wasn’t going to vote for the project because he was a Cowboys fan. I didn’t get Jerry on the phone but I called some of the other guys I know at the Cowboys trying to get Jerry (Jones), Stephen (Jones) or Jerry (Jones) Jr. to talk to the guy. He wasn’t home when we went back so, unfortunately, we couldn’t have anyone talk to him. But, I think it shows how all of the owners and all of the teams in the league are pulling for us to get a stadium done and take their time to talk to one individual voter. Because it’s very important to make sure that people get out there to vote and I think the people spoke loudly last night that they wanted a stadium.”
Here’s the transcript of York’s conference call. You can listen to the audio on 49ers.com as well.
On whether it is still an option to build the stadium on the larger parking lot or are they committed to the smaller lot:
“The environmental impact report allows us to do either. We’ve looked to the smaller lot based on Cedar Fair and Great America’s concerns. Actually, as we got into it, we like the site a little bit more probably because of its proximity to the training facility. I think that makes for a better experience for our players, not just on game days, but on the other days when they are just here practicing.”
On whether there will be more negotiations with Cedar Fair about access to the bigger parking lot:
“I’m sure that will be part of the discussion. We want to make sure that we have a project that we know the voters approved before we get into the real serious negotiations and I think those will start soon.”
On whether the 49ers or the City of Santa Clara can get out of this agreement if they want to:
“They can, but the binding agreement is more in terms of political speak, that this is binding in that you can’t overturn this. That’s why you wait until you have a certified EIR [Environmental Impact Report], but the reason that you wouldn’t move forward was if you don’t have financing, if that falls through.”
On how the stadium will be financed from here on out:
“Yes, I think we’ve been pretty clear with all of our work that there’s going to be three pieces of financing. Obviously, the stadium, authority, which will be selling naming rights, they’ll be selling concession agreements, stadium builder’s licenses. You have the investment from Santa Clara where you’ve got money coming from the redevelopment agency and you’ve got money coming from the hotels and then you’ve got the 49ers who are responsible for – and the NFL – that are responsible for close to $500 million and that is looking at the NFL financing and it’s looking at the financing that the 49ers can get on their own. I think the thing that people need to understand on NFL financing, the G3 [stadium finance] program doesn’t exist any longer, but the precursor to the G3 program, the club seat waiver is still available. And I think you’ve heard from [NFL] Commissioner [Roger] Goodell, that he wants to support stadiums going forward. Obviously, we are looking at extending a collective bargaining agreement now. I assume that will be a piece of the collective bargaining agreement and if not there’s still that club seat waiver program that we can borrow money, using the visiting team’s share of our club seats.”
On how he would classify this in terms of all of the hurdles that lie ahead:
“I keep defining the stadium project as a step function. You do a lot of work and then you don’t gain any ground and then you take a giant step up, like we did last night, with a resounding victory. The next step is working on the financing plan and that will be our main focus over the next year and a half, two years, so we can put shovels in the ground in January of 2012.”
On how the spending is impacted relative to football operations:
“I think they are two very separate pieces. Trying to win on the field and trying to build a new stadium are not the same. It’s a different budget. We have a budget for what our player compensation is going to be and I think we’ve shown we want to make sure we extend our younger players. We want to make sure we go out and add the right free agents and we are going to continue to do that. Playing at Candlestick hasn’t held us back from going out and signing our own players and going out into the free agent market and bringing in guys that we think can put us over the top and get us back to another Super Bowl.”
On whether he’s heard from other owners across the league:
“I’ve gotten a lot of emails, texts and calls from folks. I think it’s a very, very big day, not just for the 49ers, but for the NFL. When you look at how difficult it is to build a new stadium anywhere in this country, having a 60-40 win on a public vote is huge and I think owners are very excited for us and I think they are very excited about adding the first new stadium in California in three or four decades.”
On whether there were any new stadiums they paid close attention in terms of design and getting the measure passed:
“There were a lot of stadiums that we looked at. Not just football, but we looked at a lot of baseball stadiums, a lot of arenas, a lot of soccer stadiums. We are trying to find what works best from a fan’s standpoint. So, there isn’t one particular building that we looked at, but we like some of the design elements of stacking suites on one side of the building, to really make access easier for all of your fans. This way you can have a more sustainable building and better sight lines from the upper deck, so you can really make sure that fans are having a great experience when they are coming to a ballgame. From a standpoint of who have we looked at for the overall project, we’ve looked at everybody for help and guidance because anybody that’s been through it, they’ll tell you that each stadium deal is unique, but there’ s a lot of things that you can learn from wins and missteps in all of these projects.”
On whether there is a price for the SBLs and when that information will be released to fans:
“We’re still working on that and there are a lot of different variations that we’re exploring right now. At this time, we’re not releasing that information. But, there’s a lot of information on our website, 49ersnewstadium.com, that should answer a lot of the questions that fans have.”
On what stadiums currently have their suites on one side:
“There are two NFL stadiums that have done it, basically because they’ve had too small of a site to be able to build the traditional suite tower, the traditional suites going around. That was Soldier Field and Ford Field. The arena, I believe it’s Phillips Arena in Atlanta that has done this where they’ve stacked all of their suites on one side of the arena. They did that by pure design and they had the full plate to build. When you look at that, I think it allows for a lot better fan access. We’ve talked to the Lions and the Bears and when you go through and see what they’ve done, they would say, if we had just a blank piece of land that we can do whatever we wanted, and for different reasons they couldn’t build everything, that they wanted in their stadium, they love the design of that because it allows you to service your suite patrons in a much better, more efficient way. It allows for all of your other fans to really have unique amenities that otherwise wouldn’t exists.”
On what one of the amenities is and that fans will not have to skip a suite level to get to the upper deck:
“That’s one of the big things. If you don’t have two rings of suites going around the stadium and then a traditional club mezzanine level, we’re able to drop our upper deck by 30-40 feet and bring it closer to the field and that’s just the geometry of building the football stadium. When you look at some of the amenities for the non suite fans, you have much bigger concourses where you don’t have to worry about walking into a suite corridor or where you can’t get through a suite corridor. You’ve got open concourses, you’ve got open views and beer gardens and those types of things. For the suite patrons, it’s a lot easier to get them food, get them service, because all of your suites are centralized in one area. I think it’s very important that you can consume – that’s where you can consume the majority of your energy is in that suite concourse in club seats and those types of things. If all of that is comprised in about one-third of your building, you’re able to be a much more sustainable building, but you’re also able to be sure that you service your patrons. You don’t have to build three or four kitchens. You can build one kitchen and get food directly to those patrons.”
On whether the amusement park will be a major opposition going forward:
“I don’t think it will be a major problem. I’ve had conversations with them in the past and we’re confident we can come up with a resolution.”
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