If ever there's a man to liken shepherding a development to completion in San Francisco to pulling teeth, Mike Antonini is him. He's been a planning commissioner for eight years -- and he's a dentist.
So Antonini understands the San Francisco 49ers' frustration with developing a stadium plan here, and the team's attempt to flee to Santa Clara. But he says the South Bay plan a crap deal -- and he'll explain why to anyone who cares to share a beer with him at a "rally" tonight at 6 p.m. at Pete's Tavern
in Mission Bay. (Pete's is anticipating 50 to 100 attendees; since the dictionary definition of "rally"
invokes a "mass meeting," that term may be a stretch).
Antonini's arguments in favor of a Hunters Point stadium
sound a lot like rationales as to why San Francisco is a more convenient place to live than Santa Clara in general: There's more mass-transit here and it's simply a more centrally located site. But he also adds that the Santa Clara site -- even if approved by voters in June -- is still short $300 million to $400 million in investment funds. The city's stadium plan -- which is still in the process of certification despite the Santa Clara machinations -- has an 11:30 date today at the Planning Commission. Antonini boasts that, unlike Santa Clara's potential debacle-to-be, the city plan doesn't call for any private funds.
The $100 million in bond money originally approved by voters during the Willie Brown years is now a future developer's problem, with the rest of the money to be extracted from private investors and whatever team ends up playing in that stadium (yes, Antonini broached the possibility of the Niners moving on -- but abandoning their team name and colors to a future expansion 49ers franchise. This scenario played out in Cleveland, when the original Browns moved to Baltimore and the city was subsequently awarded a new team).
Some Redevelopment money is slated to go toward the larger Hunters Point project -- but, Antonini points out, that's for infrastructure such as roads and rail and not the stadium itself.
Finally, when asked whether it benefits San Francisco to keep the 49ers within city limits, Antonini admits that it really doesn't. He cited a Sunday article in the Examiner
-- which put the team's contribution to the city at about $4 million a year. "It's not a big economic boon; it's more psychological," he says. The Ex
article noted that the city spends $4.1 million annually maintaining Candlestick Park. But it did not mention that The 'Stick is held together like a Cuban Chevrolet and you can only defer maintenance for so long. Or that any argument that a 10-game-a-year football stadium could anchor a residential development
In any event, the beer will be cold. And if stadium talk grows stale, participants can always argue about whether 50-odd people constitutes a "rally."