Until the San Francisco 49ers break ground on the actual stadium itself, there is always a small part of me waiting for something to gum up the works. The team and the city of Santa Clara cleared one such potential landmine on Monday as a judge ruled in their favor in regards to the financing plan.
After the initial stadium deal was completed, the Santa Clara Stadium Authority approved $850 million in bank loans to fund the stadium. The initial issuance is split between the 49ers and the Stadium Authority, and the folks at Santa Clara Plays Fair sued claiming this was not what the initial proposition for the stadium entailed.
However, if there were a default on the $850 million in loans, the Stadium Authority and the city of Santa Clara would not be held liable. The 49ers are the ones on the chopping block for the money and the team is the collateral in this deal. Unfortunately, some folks don't quite comprehend that issue and instead elected to try and force a new referendum on the ballot. The city of Santa Clara and the 49ers sued to block the referendum and a judge agreed with them. The process of acquiring the loan was viewed as simply an administrative task for financing the stadium previously placed on the ballot.
The deadline to place any new measures on the June ballot is this Friday, so at this point we need to wait for that day to pass before we can further assess the situation. At this point, it seems likely that the 49ers will break ground on their new stadium in approximately July, with plans to open the stadium for the 2014 NFL season. Preliminary work is underway but we are simply awaiting the official groundbreaking at this point.