INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — NFL owners approved a $200 million loan Thursday to help the San Francisco 49ers build a stadium south of Santa Clara.
The team plans to bid for future Super Bowls for the 68,000-seat stadium, which will be built adjacent to the 49ers' facility.
"It's huge," 49ers CEO Jed York said of the league's approval. "We've been at this since 1997. We'll have shovels in the ground soon."
Owners approved another part of the funding package two months after the team and Santa Clara announced they'd received an $850 million loan to cover most of the estimated $1 billion cost.
The rest of the cost will be covered by the league's loan, a hotel tax and Santa Clara's redevelopment funds.
"We will definitely be in by 2015," York said, "with hopes of 2014."
Asked about hosting a Super Bowl — the next one available would be the 50th game in 2016 — York said, "This will definitely be a fitting setting for a Super Bowl game and we will bid."
The 49ers have to address their current Candlestick Park lease with the city of San Francisco that runs through 2014.
"Today's vote is an important milestone for the 49ers and their fans," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "It is a solid endorsement that adds to the strong support of the South Bay community. This step will allow the 49ers to move forward toward making the dream of a new stadium a reality."
San Francisco is the first franchise approved for funding under the NFL's G-4 loan policy initiated after the new collective bargaining agreement was reached last summer. It replaces a plan that allowed a maximum of $150,000 per team in loans.
"Get your hard hats ready; we are embarking on the path to the next generation of 49ers football," York said.