NFC West: University of Phoenix Stadium

The San Francisco 49ers signed the largest stadium naming-rights deal in the NFC West. They'll see less money from it than their division rivals will see from their deals, however.

That is because the 49ers must funnel 70 percent of the 20-year, $220.3 million payout to the local stadium authority in Santa Clara. That leaves about $66.1 million to the 49ers, less than what other NFC West teams will receive from their naming-rights deals. I would consider that a price paid for getting a stadium built in California with public support, something teams have struggled to accomplish.

The other NFC West teams keep 100 percent of their naming-rights cuts. That is not the full story, however. For example, the Arizona Cardinals received a 100 percent cut of their $154.5 million naming-rights deal after agreeing to cover millions in construction overruns. The Seahawks were also responsible for millions in cost overruns. Their naming-rights deal requires them to use proceeds for maintenance, upgrades and a fund for youth fields.

The chart provides an overview for naming-rights deals in the division, with figures coming from media reports. The 49ers and Seahawks signed deals with sponsor options to purchase additional years. I'll update the figures if and when new information becomes available. As noted, the figures come from media reports.

The San Francisco 49ers, with a new coaching staff and questions at quarterback, are already arguably the NFC West team most affected by the lockout on the field.

They are also the division's most-affected team off the field. That is because the NFL will not help finance a new 49ers stadium without a collective bargaining agreement in place.

The issue remains an impediment to the Minnesota Vikings as well. Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated Tuesday that the league would help the Vikings with their new stadium, leading one of my Facebook friends, Steve, to wonder what that meant for the 49ers. Have the Vikings been promised something extra? Not according to the league.

"It is the same assurance that any team has, which is that the clubs will consider requests by a team for a club-seat waiver in which a portion of club-seat revenue that goes to the visiting team sharing pool instead is used toward stadium construction financing for a period of time," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "Each request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by a three-fourths vote of the clubs."

The Vikings, like the 49ers, aren't getting help from the league without a CBA. With the legislative session in Minnesota ending within days, Goodell's comments appeared aimed toward giving the Vikings a short-term political push as they seek public support. Goodell said he would reveal more specifics in the coming days, but without a CBA, it'll be tough to advance the discussion.

The chart breaks down financing for NFC West venues, including the 49ers' proposed stadium. Non-ownership funding includes public financing, plus money raised by stadium authorities through naming rights and other measures. For the 49ers, that breaks down as $117 million in public money and $330 million from the Santa Clara Stadium Authority.

NFC West: Rating the stadiums

September, 17, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

Complete stadium ratings: Team-by-team glance

Arizona Cardinals (University of Phoenix Stadium, capacity 63,400)
AP Photo/Paul Connors
University of Phoenix Stadium can boast having the country's first retractable grass field.

The Cardinals got it right when they finally put the scorching hot metal bleachers of Sun Devil Stadium behind them. They found a way to build a domed stadium -- essential given the desert heat -- without giving up natural grass or natural light.

America's first retractable grass field sets apart University of Phoenix Stadium. While the roof also opens, natural light shines through even when it's closed. The stadium arguably looks a bit like a giant spaceship from the outside, but Business Week magazine ranked it one of the world's 10 most impressive sports facilities.

Wow factor: 4 wows (out of 5)

St. Louis Rams (Edward Jones Dome, capacity 66,965)

The $30 million in offseason upgrades to the nearly 15-year-old facility do not change the bottom line. The place lacks distinct flavor. It's a big building with seats. Nothing about it screams St. Louis.

The Rams' lease agreement compels the stadium to remain a "top-tier" facility by 2015, meaning it must rank among the eight best in the league. Not going to happen. Two-thirds of the league has built new stadiums since the Rams' facility opened in 1995. Sorry, Ed, but this dome simply cannot measure up by NFL standards.

Wow factor: 0 wows

San Francisco 49ers (Candlestick Park, capacity 70,207)

The place is a dump by rising NFL standards, right down to the faded puke-orange seats. But the 'Stick has history on its side and there's a charm to the place, even while navigating the cramped concourses and craning to see the field from Section 19.

It helps knowing Bill Walsh, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice called Candlestick home, but there's a reason the 49ers are pushing hard to build a new stadium in Santa Clara. It's time to move on.

Wow factor: 2 wows

Seattle Seahawks (Qwest Field, capacity 67,000)

This architecturally spectacular stadium fits nicely into downtown Seattle while providing skyline views, massive concourses and no real shortcomings.

Designers achieved an outdoor feel while still protecting 70 percent of seats from rain. The NFL's first field-level luxury suites give the end zones a distinct feel and there isn't a louder stadium in the NFL (most false starts since 2005).

Wow factor: 4 wows

Posted by's Mike Sando

TAMPA, Fla. -- The field at University of Phoenix Stadium finished first among grass fields in the NFL Players Association's annual survey.

The 49ers' field ranked 12th out of 18 grass fields. The top five: Arizona, Tampa Bay, San Diego, Carolina and Jacksonville. The five worst: Pittsburgh, Oakland, Miami, Chicago and Green Bay.

The FieldTurf surface at Qwest Field in Seattle ranked second among artificial infilled surfaces, behind the new field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Rams' FieldTurf surface ranked eighth out of 13 artificial infilled surfaces. The five best: Indianapolis, Seattle, Baltimore, Atlanta and Detroit. The five worst: Dallas, Minnesota, Giants/Jets, St. Louis and Buffalo.

Players voted for the best and worst surfaces separately. That explains how the Rams' surface ranked eighth-best and fourth-worst out of 13 surfaces.

What's your best stadium experience?

October, 15, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Steelers fans emerged as best in the league during the fan rankings we ran in late August. The stadium-experience survey Peter King unveiled Wednesday ranked Qwest Field seventh, University of Phoenix Stadium 21st, Candlestick Park 26th and the Edward Jones Dome 32nd.

The situation in Arizona has the most potential for improvement if the team continues to win at home. The stadium is terrific. There's plenty of room for tailgating in parking lots and grass fields adjacent to the stadium. I checked it out Sunday.

Candlestick Park is as outdated as any stadium in the league. Assistant coaches have to walk through the stands on their way from the pressbox to the locker rooms. Some seats go unused because they lack views to the field (reflecting the stadium's use for baseball).

The Edward Jones Dome can be plenty loud. I have a feeling the No. 32 ranking there strongly reflected fans' overall feelings about the organization, too.

What's the best stadium experience you have enjoyed as a fan? Would you feel comfortable taking small children? I recall sitting at the Los Angeles Coliseum for a Chiefs-Raiders game as marijuana smoke wafted by.