49ers Stadium Deal Sees Major Hurdle

In a significant hurdle to bringing the NFL to the South Bay, the Ohio-based company that controls the San Francisco 49ers’ proposed stadium site in Santa Clara said Friday that it opposes the project — at least for now. The Oakland Tribune is reporting that Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. has been in talks with the 49ers since before the team announced plans in November to build a 68,500-seat stadium adjacent to the Great America theme park. But based on the “limited information” the 49ers have provided, CEO Dick Kinzel recently concluded the stadium could hurt the amusement park because of the loss of parking, traffic issues, and during construction, the impact of noise, dust and inconvenience for Great America patrons, a spokeswoman said.

“We’re saying we’re opposed to the development at this point in time,” said Stacy Frole, the Cedar Fair spokeswoman. “Without having information, we have to begin to assume this could adversely affect our business and our customers at Great America, and that’s a concern for us.” Cedar Fair could reverse its stance, Frole said, if the 49ers provide “clear evidence” that the stadium would not cause those problems. The 49ers, in turn, said Cedar Fair had not responded to e-mails from the team since the two parties’ last meeting on March 15. “We recognize that Cedar Fair has concerns,” said Lisa Lang, a 49ers spokeswoman. “We think their concerns are valid and reasonable, but in order to resolve the issues connected with this project, they need to meet with us. As we go through the next couple of weeks, we hope they don’t continue to disengage on this project.”The apparent communication breakdown comes as Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan said city officials are increasingly optimistic that Santa Clara may be able to come up with the city’s $160 million share of the stadium project, without increasing taxes or utility rates.

Nevertheless, Mahan acknowledged the Cedar Fair impasse is a problem the city and the 49ers must solve. “It is one of those major things we have to work out,” she said. As recently as January, Peter Crage, Cedar Fair’s chief financial officer, said in a statement released by the 49ers, “We think an NFL stadium could be a good fit at this site.” But the relationship between Cedar Fair and the 49ers appears to have soured and become a threat to the project.”We knew they had those kinds of concerns and we’re still talking with them, and as long as you’re still in conversations, there’s still an opportunity,” said Assistant City Manager Ron Garratt, the city official heading Santa Clara’s talks with the 49ers. “We’re still setting up meetings between the city, the 49ers and Cedar Fair. I think the indication is we need more intense, more focused, conversations at this point.”

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