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Original Issue

NFL Roommates?

THE NFL IS urging the Raiders and the 49ers, tenants of two of the NFL's oldest stadiums, to explore building a shared venue in Santa Clara, about 40 miles south of Oakland and San Francisco. Sports economists say the move should be a no-brainer, especially given that single tenant NFL stadiums are used by the public only a small portion of the year. The University of Chicago's Allen Sanderson says the one-time costs of building a second locker room, a second practice facility and the office space needed for a joint stadium would "overwhelmingly make sense" as an investment because the teams would share construction and operating expenses without sacrificing revenue.

The 49ers have been negotiating with Santa Clara for more than a year on a $916 million stadium plan, but two weeks ago, after prodding from the league, the team undertook an environmental study to explore the impact of a second tenant. (The Raiders refused to comment on any prospective move.) The joint venture would enable the cross-Bay rivals to take double advantage of the league's stadium fund (teams have previously gotten a $150 million loan for a new place) and would increase the stadium's attractiveness to corporate sponsors.

Last year the Santa Clara City Council voted to contribute up to $136 million from city funds to the stadium project, as well as $35 million from a proposed 2% tax on local hotel rooms. In that plan an additional $331 million would be generated by revenue from such sources as seat licenses and naming rights, and $363 million would be paid by the 49ers and the NFL. That leaves a $51 million gap. Adding the Raiders would more than cover that, plus any new expenses.

In only two cases do teams in the same major pro sports league share a venue—the NFL's New York Giants and Jets and the NBA's L.A. Clippers and Lakers. Even if the 49ers', um, Chardonnay crowd might not seem a natural fit with the Raiders' Black Hole, the smart plan is to make this pairing the third case.

$916 million
Proposed cost for a stadium to house the 49ers in Santa Clara.

$51 million
Funding gap that would be erased if the Raiders were co-tenants.