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San Francisco 49ers break ground on Santa Clara stadium

The San Francisco 49ers broke ground Thursday on their new $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

"Welcome to the site of your new home on Sundays," 49ers CEO Jed York told supporters clad in gold-rush-style helmets.

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"I see a team building with a shovel in one hand and a sword in the other," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh declared to a crowd of about 3,000 fans, team executives and past and present players.

San Francisco's Candlestick Park has been the home of the 49ers since 1971. The new stadium is expected to be completed in time for the 2014 season.

York hopes to open the stadium for the 2014 season and allow the team to bid for the Super Bowl in 2016 and 2017.

The new 68,500-seat stadium will feature 165 luxury suites, 9,000 club seats and a green roof-top deck that includes solar panels and harvested herbs for some on-site food preparation.

"I want this to be a showcase of technology that enhances the game experience," York said. "And I want it to be something unique to Northern California."

Aging Candlestick Park is long overdue for a makeover, has some of the worst sightlines of any major professional sports venue and is a logistical nightmare for commuters. Two power outages also delayed a Monday night victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last season.

"I realize this is a bittersweet day for a lot of people," York said. "I want to make this clear: We are the San Francisco 49ers, and we will always be the San Francisco 49ers."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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