Santa Clara County officials want to yank $30 million in tax funds for new 49ers stadium

Even with the loss of $30 million, the team probably won’t return to Candlestick Park after the 2013 season. (US Presswire)

All seemed to be going well for the 49ers expected move to Santa Clara and a new $1.02 billion stadium that would be used by the beginning of the 2014 season. Already, the team had decided it wanted to host Super Bowl L, and the city of Santa Clara had approved an $876.8 million contract to fund the construction (the NFL had already approved a $200 million loan).

Now, though, there is a kink in the plans.

That’s because, according to the San Jose Mercury News, Santa Clara County has decided to pull $30 million in tax funds promised for the new stadium. The county says it would rather spend money on teachers than on football games.

Writes the newspaper, "The 49ers and Santa Clara city leaders strongly and passionately object to the move, saying voters had specifically earmarked redevelopment funds to the stadium and that the county has no right to keep it. Lengthy court battles are likely, launching a rare soap opera in a stadium debate that has been mostly peaceful -- and supposedly long over.

"Ladies and gentleman, retain your attorneys: The litigation is [about] to begin," County Assessor Larry Stone said.

At this point, the team isn't commenting, and the loss of the money most likely wouldn't stop the stadium from being built and the team from moving. In all likelihood, the team probably would have to spend that $30 million itself.

The problem here is that Santa Clara voters approved $40 million to fund a new stadium in 2010. As the paper writes, there's a new problem: "But the state has since scrapped redevelopment agencies, and Santa Clara's redevelopment fund had only paid $10 million toward the stadium. So the 49ers loaned Santa Clara leaders the remaining $30 million and started construction, thinking they'd be paid back from future property tax revenues.

"There's just one glitch, however: The new state law gives counties complete control over doling out the property tax revenues from former redevelopment areas. At a meeting in Santa Clara City Hall on Friday, the oversight board voted 4-3 to keep the money from the 49ers and spend it instead on local governments and schools."

One issue over the money is the belief by at least one Santa Clara County official that the 49ers will install TVs on the back of each seat in the new stadium. He thinks schools deserve that money instead.

"Let's be real: That stadium is going to get built whether or not you get this $30 million," county tax collector George Putris said. "We're talking about schoolteachers, whether they get laid off, whether there are 35 kids in a classroom, whether there are seismic retrofits."

Instead, Santa Clara and the 49ers are experience seismic shifts of their own.

Look, it's hard for me to argue that county officials shouldn't spend their money on schools rather than on luxuries for a new stadium that, in my opinion, shouldn't be publicly funded anyway. But if the voters agree to a deal, the county should uphold it. Otherwise, it's simply county officials going against the will of the people.

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