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San Jose Mercury NewsOriginal Article »
July 12, 2007
The owner of the Great America amusement park said Wednesday that it is no longer opposed to the San Francisco 49ers' plan to build a stadium in an adjoining parking lot in Santa Clara. In fact, the two sides emerged from a meeting this week talking about ways to collaborate.
Even so, the Ohio-based amusement-park owner isn't quite ready to back the project.
"Before, we were saying we were opposed to it because we had received limited information," said a Cedar Fair spokeswoman, Stacy Frole. "We're at the point now where we have received information, however, we need to analyze that information before any decision can be made."
Cedar Fair has no timetable for making a decision, Frole said.
Peter Crage, Cedar Fair's chief financial officer, spent about six hours Tuesday at Santa Clara City Hall meeting with Jed York, the son of the 49ers owners; Larry MacNeil, the 49ers chief financial officer; 49ers consultants and city officials. The two sides discussed how to limit the effect of noise and dust from construction on Great America, and how to accommodate parking for both Great America and NFL games on days when the 49ers play and the park is open.
"We thought it was a productive meeting," said 49ers spokeswoman Lisa Lang. "Our expectation is that there will be another meeting set up once they have a chance to go over this and discuss it internally."
The owner of Great America created a stir in June when it said it would oppose the project, citing a lack of information from the 49ers about parking conflicts and the effect of construction on patrons.
Cedar Fair has an effective veto over the project. Cedar Fair leases the land under Great America from Santa Clara; the company's lease allows Santa Clara to redevelop the parking lot with Great America's written agreement, but the city must maintain 8,100 parking spaces near the park's front entrance.
The team and Cedar Fair discussed "possible partnerships" at the meeting, said Deputy City Manager Carol McCarthy, but she declined to provide details. Lang said the team shared demographic and marketing information about fans and season-ticket holders.
"It's an obvious opportunity to encourage season-ticket holders to go to Great America as part of their day," Lang said.
Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan said the lesson learned from the Cedar Fair situation is that the city, the team and Cedar Fair need to keep working together to overcome obstacles.
"Nothing was done intentionally to ignore one of the parties or keep them out of the conversation and, in fact, they were invited into the conversation early on," Mahan said. "Going forward, we're opening the lines of communication."
Mahan said she's encouraged by how city officials and consultants have identified almost two-thirds of the $160 million that the city would need to contribute to help the team build the $854 million stadium.
"This is becoming more and more doable the more we get into it," she said.
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