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The new 49ers Stadium under construction is viewed from the Hyatt Hotel in Santa Clara, Calif. on Thursday, April 18, 2013. In the foreground is the roof of the Santa Clara Convention Center. The construction of the $1.2 billion stadium that will seat about 68,500 spectators is well under way a year after breaking ground. (Gary Reyes/ Bay Area News Group)

SANTA CLARA -- Get ready for Levi's Stadium.

The San Francisco 49ers have scored the West Coast's biggest naming-rights deal, announcing Wednesday that legendary San Francisco jeans-maker Levi Strauss will put its name on the team's new Santa Clara stadium when it opens next year.

The company will pay $220.3 million to the city of Santa Clara and the 49ers over 20 years to help pay for the $1.2 billion stadium, and Levi Strauss has the option of extending the deal for another five years for an additional $75 million or so. The total contract, which averages out to about $11 million per year in the first two decades, is believed to be at least the fourth-highest in NFL history and is more than the naming-rights deals scored by the San Francisco Giants, Oakland Raiders, Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks -- combined.

Niners CEO Jed York joined Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh to celebrate the deal in front of hundreds of cheering employees at the firm's global headquarters in Levi's Plaza in San Francisco on Wednesday morning, with 49ers players and coaches celebrating at a pep rally in the afternoon.

"You can't find a better name for the stadium than 'Levi's' -- it really was the perfect fit," York said, echoing the common pun of the day. "This is one of the top deals (in the NFL); you're right there in the top echelon."

Levi Strauss beat out 31 other interested companies from around the world -- including three to five unnamed corporations that were in the final stages of negotiations. The iconic jeans company offered the most money, as well as proven financial success, including $4.6 billion in sales last year and a top credit rating, something lacked by a lot of the young Silicon Valley tech companies that were interested.


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The 49ers also highlighted the sentimental value of the deal, noting that Levi Strauss helped turn San Francisco into the world-class city it is today when it was founded in 1873 to clothe the original 49ers who came west seeking gold. The team also loved the short, clean feel of the Levi's Stadium name -- though the 49er faithful are sure to debate that.

Levi Strauss has been promised four huge signs around the stadium, a pair of 50-yard-line luxury suites, 52 club seats, access to host four events a year at the stadium and plenty of perks that come with joining the family of an NFL team. The company can even tap star players such as quarterback Colin Kaepernick to woo customers and have coach Jim Harbaugh come in to pump up employees. And the stadium's 23,000-square-foot loft club will be called either Club 501 or the Denim Lounge.

"Imagine bringing some of our biggest partners to a seat on the 50-yard line to a 49ers game at Levi's Stadium," said James "J.C." Curleigh, president of the Levi's brand, noting it was also a chance to advertise to average NFL fans who wear jeans. He called it the biggest long-term corporate marketing deal in the company's 140-year history. "It's a big-league deal with a big-league company."

Rob Yowell -- president of Gemini Sports Group, who did the Oracle Arena naming rights deal and helped some companies explore the 49ers naming-rights deal -- said the team had been asking for at least $15 million annually from some companies.

"Let's not discount an $11 million-a-year deal; no one is pooh-poohing that at all," Yowell said. "If I'm sitting in the 49ers' shoes, I've got a 20-year partner of a brand that is extremely well-recognized -- this is not some who-is-it-dot-com sort of thing."

After thousands of Levi's employees were treated to 49ers gear and popcorn, Harbaugh, general manager Trent Baalke and star players pumped up the crowd.

"I've been wearing Levi's since I was a kid," tight end Vernon Davis said, dressed in Levi's alongside Kaepernick, running back Frank Gore and defensive standouts Patrick Willis and Justin Smith.

Even Harbaugh took a break from his usual khaki pants to don jeans. "We're proud to share our locker room and sideline with Levi's," the coach said.

Fans, who affectionately call the team's current home "The Stick" and are generally opposed to corporate stadium names, reacted with mixed results. Unscientific online polls showed a slight majority of respondents liked the name, though others poked fun at it on Twitter and Facebook, and the announcement immediately triggered a battle of puns.

"The best thing I've seen is 'Welcome to the Field of Jeans,' " York said.

"Or the coach in the locker room can say, 'Win one for the zipper,' " Bergh quipped back.

In all, the 49ers and Creative Artists Agency pitched the deal to 32 interested companies in fields ranging from technology to food service to insurance in the United States, Europe and Asia over the past two years. They've been negotiating with Levi's since December. Team officials declined to name the runners-up but said they were confident they would not have received more money from another company.

The New York Jets and New York Giants inked what's considered sports' richest naming-rights deal -- $425 million to $625 million over 25 years to name MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Santa Clara city leaders endorsed the Levi's deal in principle over the past week and are expected to give a formal green light during a special City Council meeting Thursday night.

"Silicon Valley companies come and go, but Levi's is always there," said Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews. "We've done exceptionally well. Having a long-term, stable partner like Levi's gives us a great deal of comfort."

The deal calls for the revenue to be split 70-30 between the public agency created to build the stadium and the 49ers.

The Santa Clara Stadium Authority will get $154.2 million over the 20-year deal, starting with $5.7 million when the stadium opens in summer 2014 and increasing 3 percent annually to $10 million in 2033. The revenue will help pay off the $850 million loan the stadium authority took out last year to build the $1.2 billion stadium.

Separately, the 49ers will ink an additional sponsorship agreement with the company that goes beyond the naming-rights portion of the deal. The team will receive $66.1 million, starting with $2.5 million next year and increasing to $4.3 million in 2033, which will help fund the 49ers' portion of the stadium debt and the team's annual rent payments to Santa Clara.

CAA, the Los Angeles-based sports agents that teamed with the 49ers to sell the naming rights, will net a $2.8 million commission.

In addition to 49ers games, which will draw millions of television viewers and 68,500 ticket-holders, the stadium is expected to host at least one big event per month and is the front-runner to host the 50th Super Bowl, in 2016.

As York told the crowd gathered at Levi's Plaza: "This is day one of a long, grand partnership."

Staff writer Robert Salonga contributed to this report. Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at Twitter.com/RosenbergMerc.