Click photo to enlarge
Artist rendering of the proposed 49ers stadium in Santa Clara. (Courtesy of San Francisco 49ers)

Sure, take another week to hash out a new NFL labor deal. What's another seven days of decay at Candlestick Park and the Oakland Coliseum?

Replacing those relics is the Bay Area's foremost NFL concern, so stadium financing had better be a game-within-the-game aspect of these labor negotiations.

The 49ers and Raiders need appropriate measures taken in the next collective bargaining agreement to enhance their stadium pursuits, or at least a shared-stadium concept.

We in the Bay Area are not consumed by thoughts of an 18-game regular season, a rookie wage scale, players' health care and pension benefits or the owners' bigger piece of the $9 billion pie.

We are house hunters, plain and simple.

We need a sign that our stadium crisis can be addressed through these labor negotiations, which got a seven-day extension Friday from the lockout-threatening owners and lawsuit-at-the-ready players.

Owners opted out of a 2006 labor deal in hopes of a bigger bankroll. The Raiders' Al Davis and the 49ers' York family understandably need more dough if their intentions are honest regarding new stadiums.

Without a better home, they'll continue to work at a competitive disadvantage financially. A better quarterback would help, too, but we digress.

"My biggest thing is, and we work on it day and night, we want a stadium," Davis said during a Jan. 18 news conference. "The best place for a stadium is where the Oakland Coliseum is right now. As to whether it will happen or not, we have to have somewhere in the future here, a new stadium."


Advertisement

The 49ers want a new stadium to rise up across the street from their Santa Clara headquarters. Aside from $114 million coming from Santa Clara's Measure J, they need the NFL to chip in on the $1 billion cost of their 68,500-seat dream house.

In October, that project was pushed back another year because of financing concerns tied to this labor-deal uncertainty, making 2015 the targeted opening date.

Team president and CEO Jed York has called a new labor pact the "linchpin" to the 49ers' financing package for a stadium.

"Obviously, a new stadium is vital to the 49ers and to this area," York said in an October interview with the Sacramento Bee. "But without a CBA that adequately recognizes the costs of a new stadium, the capital expenses, it's going to be very difficult for us to move forward and obtain that financing in the second and third quarter of 2011 absent a big piece of the puzzle."

Echoing that stance was Greg Carey, a Goldman Sachs executive working on the 49ers' quest to identify lenders. "In order for the project to become reality, we need the participation of the league in the funding," Carey told the Bay Area News Group on Oct. 21.

Will the new CBA bring back a stadium-financing slush fund, formerly known as the G3 program that last kicked in $150 million apiece to the New York Giants' and Jets' shared stadium? Or will owners have the economic capacity to bankroll a state-of-the-art facility on their own? Answers (in order of question): Possibly, and no way.

"Since this new CBA was put in place (in 2006), it makes it even more challenging to get a stadium built, and then you add the economy on top of it," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last season. "It's a difficult environment to get stadiums built, and that is sort of the core -- the investment that the ownership is making to generate revenue."

Not even a $700 million naming-rights deal for a proposed Los Angeles stadium is enough to convince Goodell of that stadium's investment viability. Goodell did agree that the 49ers, Raiders and San Diego Chargers need new stadiums urgently. Until then, they are stuck in outdated homes, and the Super Bowl is headed for grander pastures.

Once this labor situation is resolved, it'll be fascinating to hear how the 49ers and Raiders describe their stadium visions. If their cause is aided by a new CBA's structure, they had better start digging up soil in Santa Clara and Oakland. To do that, each franchise still will have to shoulder a significant financial burden. Do they have the financial acumen?

The uncertain labor situation has provided the 49ers and Raiders a worthy stall tactic in terms of stadium construction, or lack thereof. As for their inability to find a top-shelf quarterback or a playoff-making team, well, the 49ers and Raiders are on their own in that regard. Unless the CBA awards them Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Contact Cam Inman at cinman@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/CamInman.