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49ers look into possible move to Santa Clara

Updated:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The 49ers have given up hope of building a state-of-the-art stadium in San Francisco and are considering a move to suburban Santa Clara.

Owner John York notified San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom of the team's decision Wednesday, the mayor's spokesman, Peter Ragone, told The Associated Press.

York planned to hold a news conference Thursday in Santa Clara to talk in detail about the decision. But in a news release announcing the decision issued late Wednesday night, York said the team will not change its name even if he decided to move.

``Nothing will persuade us to change the name of the San Francisco 49ers, one of the most storied brands in the world of sports,'' he said.

According to the release, York made his decision after a yearlong study of the area around Candlestick Park determined that the area needed too many infrastructure and public transit improvements to make a new stadium viable.

The team said the cost of those improvements could have exceeded the entire bill for the proposed stadium, which was estimated to cost between $600 million and $800 million.

Also, the team said it was unlikely it could achieve its goal of opening the new stadium in time for the 2012 season.

Now the team is seeking to build a new stadium in Santa Clara, near the Great America amusement park and the Santa Clara Convention Center. The 49ers headquarters and training facility are currently based in Santa Clara, which is located about 30 miles south of San Francisco, near San Jose.

``We have been looking to expand our entertainment options in the Great America-Convention Center area for years, and this stadium can be a great addition,'' Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan said in a statement issued by the team. ``The 49ers have been clear that their goal is to put together a project that has no impact on the city's general fund and no increase in taxes, and we are ready to give this project our full attention.''

The 49ers and San Francisco officials had been talking over the last few months about building a privately financed stadium at Candlestick Point that was going to be part of the city's bid for the 2016 summer Olympics.

Ragone did not know how the 49ers' decision would impact the Olympic bid. San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago are the three cities competing to be the U.S. Olympic Committee's choice to bid on the 2016 games.

The team's current lease at Candlestick runs through the 2008 season and the team holds three five-year options that could extend it through 2023.

The current stadium at Candlestick is one of the most run-down in the league, leading to the team's desire to seek a new stadium with revenue-generating suites and luxury boxes. The plan to build a stadium also included public housing, retail and office space.

San Francisco was not going to contribute any money to the stadium but was willing to possibly help with some of the infrastructure costs.

The 49ers said if they are unable to move forward with the project in Santa Clara, they would only look at other cities in the region.

``The 49ers have called the Bay Area home for our entire 60 year history,'' York said. ``We are a part of the fabric of this region, and we intend to stay right here where we belong.''
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