The NFL owners used Super Bowl week to hand the 49ers the next best thing to a championship a $200 million loan to help pay for the future 49ers stadium in Santa Clara.
In cementing a crucial and long-awaited piece in paying for the $1 billion project, the league's owners approved one of the largest contributions to a new stadium in NFL history, voting overwhelmingly in favor of financial backing for a 68,500-seat home for the 49ers in Silicon Valley.
The 49ers' owner, Jed York, revealed the $200 million deal in a tweet just after NFL owners voted on stadium funding during a meeting in Indianapolis, which is hosting the Super Bowl. The NFL already indicated last year that a new stadium in Santa Clara, which is projected to be ready for the 2015 season, would be a strong candidate to lure a Super Bowl to the Bay Area.
"With the NFL's muscle now behind the new stadium, we are moving forward," York said. "I expect an official groundbreaking ceremony very soon."
The NFL kicked in the money from a fund re-established as part of last year's collective bargaining agreement, and amounts to the second-largest contribution in history from the league for a new stadium. The NFL contributed $300 million for a joint stadium project for the New York Giants and New York Jets, and $150 million for stadiums in Dallas and Indianapolis.
There had been speculation the NFL would press the 49ers and Raiders to share the Santa Clara stadium in order to secure the financing, but York said there is no link to the contribution. Amy Trask, the Raiders' CEO, declined comment because she's tied up with NFL business in Indianapolis but has said in the past the team is exploring all options for a new stadium, including the possibility of partnering with the 49ers.
Nearly two months ago, the 49ers and the city of Santa Clara announced they had secured $850 million in loans from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and U.S. Bank to bankroll construction.