SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Right now, the opposition is in its infancy. It’s still just a skeleton of American steel and modular concrete that 600 people working double shifts are raising toward the sky in Silicon Valley. But when it is done, this 1.85 million-square-foot behemoth will be the new home for the San Francisco 49ers.
It will cost approximately $1.2 billion. It will seat 68,500 fans. It will house 165 private suites. It will be surrounded by 25,000 parking spaces and be within 100 yards of two light transit rail lines.
Forty-Niners CEO Jed York says this stadium, the culmination of six years of work in Santa Clara and a club effort that began in 1997, wasn’t meant to be the biggest or most expensive in the NFL.
“Instead,” York said, “we wanted to build the smartest stadium in the NFL.”
And by the time it opens in 2014, this facility might be the major reason South Florida is again left out of the Super Bowl hosting business it once dominated.
The new stadium rising here will be the centerpiece of Santa Clara’s April bid to host Super Bowl 50 in 2016. South Florida is the only other finalist in the running for that Golden Anniversary Bowl. But it’s clear this new stadium and all it promises tilts the field against South Florida.
“When you look at the most recent Super Bowls that have been awarded, they’ve either gone to new stadiums or recently renovated stadiums,” York said. “It’s a very competitive process when you’re talking about hosting a Super Bowl. Obviously, it’s the No. 1 sporting event in America. It’s something all eyes are going to be on and you’re going to have the entire NFL along with all of their partners in town for a week leading up to the game.
“I think it’s important that you have a newer stadium. But if you don’t have a newer stadium, it’s important you’re continuing to invest in your stadium to make sure it’s always fresh, always new, so it always feels like a good innovative place to host the game.”
South Florida doesn’t have that today. We have great weather. We have ample hotel space. We have experience hosting the game. The NFL loves the region.
But Sun Life Stadium, open since in 1987, simply does not compare with new facilities like the one in Santa Clara, the one proposed in Atlanta or the ones already built in Indianapolis, Houston, Dallas and New Jersey.
Everyone in the NFL knows it.
‘A great chance’
“I think Miami has a great chance,” York said of South Florida’s chances to beat out his new building. “They’ve hosted 10 Super Bowls to date. So Miami is great at being a site. I think it’s going to be a great competition between the two communities.
“But if you look at recent history, it’s important to the NFL that people are investing in their stadium and continuing to upgrade. When you look at New Orleans this year, I don’t know what the numbers are off the top of my head, but the state of Louisiana put in multiple hundreds of millions of dollars to renovate the Superdome. And if you look at the other buildings that have hosted — the Cowboys, the Giants next year, Arizona the year after — those are all new buildings or stadiums recently renovated like New Orleans. That’s what you need.”