San Francisco 49ers: Columnists Take Aim At Stadium Controversy

Glenn Franco Simmons@fotodifrancoAnalyst IJuly 17, 2009

San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle columnists must have sampled the same creative elixir because their recent columns about the 49ers' stadium plans were both witty and/or candid.

Well, some might consider them insulting, if they happened to be targets.

In a Mercury News column, Mark Purdy wrote:

"What a naive chump I can be."

"Over the past few years, I truly thought that San Francisco was losing its vicious jealousy of the South Bay and Silicon Valley."

"... You would think that as residents of the Bay Area's second-largest city, San Franciscans would realize the South Bay is no hick outpost or threat to civilization, just a vital part of Northern California's diverse metropolitan region. Right?"

"Wrong. Ever since the 49ers decided to cast their fate with Santa Clara, the ... envy has returned. ..."

Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto was pragmatic:

"The idea that Santa Clara has 100 million some-odd dollars to toss at the 49ers is weird enough. Trusting the Yorks to come up with the other $800 million needed to build takes the guts of a bomb-disposal unit."

"And in times like these, when money is tight, guts can be tight, too."

"So let's move past Santa Clara for the moment and ask the question that needs to be asked next, namely: 'What does San Francisco do if Santa Clara says no?'"

"And then the questions after that, like: 'Who does it? Why?' And the big one: 'Are the 49ers worth whatever it happens to be?'"

Purdy was stinging in his analysis:

"{San Francisco Mayor Gavin} Newsom has been spinning local media members to portray the situation {that} 49ers owner John York and his son, Jed, could not get their arms around all of the San Francisco project's intricate details. Therefore, the Yorks chose the less-dynamic and much-easier-to-comprehend option in Santa Clara."

"Honest. That is the spin. And many people are clueless enough to believe it."

Ratto was realistic:

"... Even though the city hasn't shown itself capable of serious foresight since the Rolph administration ended in 1931. Should it {a new stadium deal} be done? An open question, because in politics it takes more smarts not to get fleeced than it does to fleece others."

"But if Santa Clara votes the Yorks out of town, San Francisco will have to step up and do ... well, something. It would be a refreshing change if it actually had something well-crafted and considered in the works ahead of time, something that the residents could view with something loftier than dyspeptic outrage."

"It's certainly conceivable that the city is capable of such thinking. But you'd be a fool to bet that way."


Purdy had one arrow left:

"Over the years, ... I have discovered .. San Francisco folks ... are surprised to learn how much public transit access is available to the Santa Clara stadium site — with VTA light-rail and ACE commuter trains — and how the infrastructure for reasonably easy freeway access already exists."

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Perhaps Scott Ostler had the most-sobering point for the team's fans:

"Look, the 49ers need a new stadium to remain financially viable and thus competitive on the field. It is a key to their survival as a franchise. Within a few years, the 49ers will do one of three things:

1. Build a stadium in Santa Clara. 2. Build a stadium in San Francisco. 3. Move far, far away."

"If you think it's a pain driving all the way to Santa Clara for home games, try schlepping to Los Angeles."

That would be the pinnacle of absurdity since it was the Eddie De Bartolo-led 49ers dynasty that chased off the Los Angeles Rams to flyover country.

I recommend reading the full columns, if you have an interest in the 49ers and/or stadium issue:

Scott Ostler’s Chronicle column

Ray Ratto’s Chronicle column

Mark Purdy’s Mercury News column

(Photo credit: the modified NASA public-domain photo from Wikipedia shows Candlestick Park.)