A lot of rhetoric was exchanged in the campaign for Measure J, Santa Clara's city ballot initiative to gain public support for construction of a $927 million state of the art stadium for the San Francisco 49ers.
Opponents of the proposition made outlandish claims ranging from the "fact" that the stadium would create debt for residents of Santa Clara, to the notion that the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was a better site, to the notion that Candlestick Point offers "scenic vistas" that put the South Bay to shame.
Opponents of the measure drew support from political celebrities like US Congresswoman and former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein and current San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
DiFi went so far into the territory of poor taste as to use an invited appearance at Bill Walsh's memorial service in 2007 to shamelessly denounce the notion of the 49ers leaving the city limits of San Francisco. The "honorable" Gavin Newsom rambled ad nauseam on why such a move was a "bad idea" (actual and factual substantiation nonexistent).
All of it amounts to about as much today as the defensive pass coverage of Everson Walls in the 1982 NFC Championship Game (no, I will not explain that one; ask your parents or look it up). Santa Clara voters resoundingly approved Measure J on June 8, clearing the final major hurdle between the 49ers and a brand new stadium in 2014.
This is without a doubt one of the most significant events in the proud history of one of the NFL's greatest all-time franchises. There is no saying what would have happened to the 49ers had Measure J failed, but the passage of Measure J virtually guarantees the 49ers will not only remain an integral part of the San Francisco Bay Area, but will have a place to call home on their own side of the Bay.
Some have posited the notion that Measure J may merely be a bargaining chip to help the 49ers land a better deal to stay in San Francisco proper. If so, and if it works, bravo to Jed York (and more realistically, his uncle and advisor, Eddie DeBartolo). I would have absolutely no problem with the 49ers remaining in San Francisco. But do I see it happening?
Most likely not.
As I have pointed out many times, there simply are not many— if any— viable sites in San Francisco to support such a stadium. Candlestick Point (and its neighbor Hunter's Point) may have land and space, but they are situated in an area that is not only horribly inaccessible, prone to inclement weather, and below sea level leading to terrible field conditions, but also clearly lacks close proximity to the type of amenities a legitimate NFL venue needs to survive.
Unless the city takes my admittedly brilliant advice and converts Alcatraz Island to the new home the 49ers, or cedes control of the equestrian stadium site in Golden Gate Park, I see the 49ers leaving San Francisco soon.
Measure J, however, gives the 49ers a very palatable alternative. The Santa Clara stadium would allow the 49ers to remain in the San Francisco Bay Area, without having to move to Alameda and essentially being subjected to 16 road games every year (not to mention having to be guests in a Raiders' stadium).
The Santa Clara stadium may not be optimal, but it is still a great option. Now that the final major hurdle is cleared, I expect to be watching games in the Silicon Valley in 2014.
Even if I end up being wrong, one crisis has clearly been averted: The San Francisco Bay Area will not lose their beloved 49ers to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or elsewhere.
Keep the Faith!