NFC West: stadium

What to know about Rams stadium ruling

February, 1, 2013
NEW ORLEANS -- Nothing puts football fans to sleep quite like stadium arbitration updates, so I'll make this brief.

The St. Louis Rams moved closer to securing a new stadium in St. Louis or elsewhere Friday when an arbiter chose the team's proposal for Edward Jones Dome upgrades over a cheaper proposal from the city's stadium authority.

The decision comes as no shock. It's the latest step in a process set forth in the existing lease agreement. The agreement compelled the stadium authority to provide the Rams with one of the NFL's eight best stadiums by 2015. The sides made competing proposals. An arbiter chose the Rams' proposal.

The stadium authority now has 30 days to accept or reject the Rams' proposal, which called for massive and expensive overhauls to the Edward Jones Dome. A rejection is more likely. At that point, the Rams' lease, currently set to run through 2025, would convert to a year-by-year basis beginning in 2015.

Every one of the Rams' division rivals has built a new stadium since 2002 or is building one now. The Rams will want a new one, too. They now have additional leverage to get one.
The San Francisco 49ers issued a news release Thursday stating that their new stadium will open in 2014 even as $30 million in public funding remains in dispute.

A judge issued an order preventing the county from moving forward with plans to shift the money from the stadium toward other priorities, including education. That order remains in place until a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

In the meantime, stadium construction will move forward as planned. That is what matters from a football standpoint.

Losing the $30 million would not jeopardize stadium construction or compromise the team's ability to fund its football operations in the short term. The 49ers strengthened their financial base this offseason by welcoming as minority owners Silicon Valley player Gideon Yu and investor Mark Wan, a limited partner in the Boston Celtics.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Sunshine and temperatures rising into the 80s will greet the San Francisco 49ers as their mandatory three-day minicamp begins Tuesday afternoon.

Construction on the 49ers' new stadium, to be completed in time for the 2014 season, has changed the atmosphere at team headquarters. But with so many key players returning, including all 11 starters on defense, the feel at practice figures to be similar.

I'll be checking in with various 49ers coaches and players before heading to their minicamp practice at 3 p.m. PT.

Another kind of victory for the 49ers

December, 3, 2011
The San Francisco 49ers had no head coach, questionable on-field prospects, an unproven front office and an uphill fight off the field as they chased a new stadium.

That was 11 months ago. The landscape is has changed dramatically on all fronts.

Jim Harbaugh is a leading candidate for NFL coach of the year. The team has a 9-2 record and can clinch the NFC West title Sunday. President Jed York and/or general manager Trent Baalke are looking like strong candidates for executive of the year. Momentum on the stadium front is also building with news that the team has lined up financing for a new one near its headquarters in Santa Clara.

Those of us more interested in third-down conversion rates and goal-line formations tend to have little patience for stadium-financing stories. The latest reports appear substantial enough to command our attention. By all appearances, the 49ers have cleared the largest remaining hurdle on their way to opening a new stadium near team headquarters for the 2015 season.

That's great for York and the organization. It'll be tough for some to see the team play its games outside San Francisco. The 49ers' need for a new stadium was great if you believe modern facilities help teams compete over the long term. Candlestick Park, though steeped in history and memorable moments, has become increasingly decrepit.

This is not quite a done deal. Mike Rosenberg's piece for the San Jose Mercury News quotes one of the project's proponents saying the funding commitments leave the venture facing "first-and-goal from the 9" -- close, but not quite there. Opponents call the agreement less favorable for taxpayers than previous ones. That's a civic issue beyond the scope of what we generally discuss here.

The 49ers consider this a victory for them. Opponents of the project also consider it a victory for the team. That makes it a victory for the team.

OTL: Safer to digest in NFC West

July, 26, 2010
Fans sick of watching NFC West teams lose to non-division opponents might be less apt to feel queasy at their favorite teams' concession stands.

Score it as a small victory for the division that claimed the fewest victories against outside competition last season.

The chart, based on information from an "Outside The Lines" investigation, ranks NFL stadiums by percentage of stadium food vendors suffering "critical violations" in recent inspections.

The number of vendors per stadium probably varies and those totals were not revealed, making it impossible to identify exact percentages for each division. I settled for averaging the percentages and the NFC West came out best in the league: NFC West 23.8 percent critical violations, AFC North 26.3, NFC North 27.0, AFC East 31.3, NFC East 40.3, AFC West 42.0, AFC South 43.0, NFC South 45.8.

Candlestick Park, the oldest stadium in the NFC West, had the best percentage (13) in the division. I'll break down findings for each NFC West stadium (note that some "critical violations" seem relatively minor).

San Francisco 49ers

Stadium: Candlestick Park

Critical violations rate: 13 percent

Inspection report excerpt, via OTL: "Inspectors found one location with no hot water, posing a sanitary threat."

St. Louis Rams

Stadium: Edward Jones Dome

Critical violations rate: 21 percent

Inspection report excerpt, via OTL: "One location got a critical violation for not having hand towels at a sink."

Arizona Cardinals

Stadium: University of Phoenix Stadium

Critical violations rate: 28 percent

Inspection report excerpt, via OTL: "Inspectors asked a vendor to toss seven hamburgers being held below the required 130-degree temperature for hot, ready-to-serve food."

Seattle Seahawks

Stadium: Qwest Field

Critical violations rate: 33 percent

Inspection report excerpt, via OTL: "About 15 locations were cited for not having adequate hand-washing facilities."

49ers' stadium measure leading big

June, 9, 2010
The San Francisco 49ers have to feel good about their chances for a new stadium in Santa Clara after reviewing early ballot results for Measure J.

The Santa Clara Registrar of Voters shows the measure leading 61.29 percent to 38.71 percent with 10 of 58 precincts reporting. Results show 8,383 votes in favor and 5,295 opposed out of roughly 46,000 registered voters in Santa Clara.

Those numbers make passage seem very likely at this point. Those early returns account for 29.7 percent of registered voters. Absentee ballots tend to get counted first and large numbers of voters are going that route to make their voices heard.

Passage of Measure J doesn't guarantee construction of a new stadium -- there are additional hurdles to clear -- but it would be a giant step toward that goal.

Update: The registrar's website showed only 710 new votes with eight additional precincts reporting. Looks like that first run of absentee ballots will account for much of the vote. The measure is still getting better than 60 percent. It's very hard to envision this measure losing.

Lawsuit against 49ers' stadium plans

April, 13, 2010
Football fans I know would rather think about linebacker depth than stadium issues.

It's still worth noting that theme park owners affected by the 49ers' stadium plans have filed suit against the team and Santa Clara.

Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News has followed the stadium issue closely. His take on the stadium fight in general, without regard for the subsequently filed lawsuit:
A close look at the deal demonstrates that both sides are likely exaggerating the consequences of building a 68,500-seat stadium on a parking lot adjacent to Great America theme park. Predictions of an apocalypse for the city if the stadium is built appear overblown. In many ways, the agreement between Santa Clara officials and the 49ers appears better than most recent public pacts for pro football stadiums, with a greater percentage of contribution from the team, legal protections against construction cost overruns and some provisions to insulate city coffers if stadium revenues fall short. At the same time, the stadium campaign's assurances of an economic bonanza from building the stadium appear likewise infused with hyperbole, based on experiences in other NFL cities and assessments from experts in pro sports stadium deals.

In other words, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.