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Santa Clara council gives nod to Montana for hotel project

Joe Montana against the Santa Clara city manager? Not even close.

With the San Francisco 49ers' Hall of Fame quarterback in attendance Tuesday night, the Santa Clara City Council voted 5-1 to lease land to Montana for a luxury hotel project next to the NFL team's future home.

According to the *San Jose Mercury News,* the council made the rare move of ignoring the recommendation of city manager Jennifer Sparacino, who wanted to open the land to bidding from other interested parties.

"The star power and sheer attraction Joe Montana would bring to this project is just invaluable," city councilwoman Lisa Gillmor said. "Do Joe Montana and Eddie DeBartolo belong next to a 49ers stadium? I think they do."

Montana's business group includes DeBartolo, the former owner of the 49ers. They want to build a hotel, restaurant and sports bar that would be ready in time for the stadium's planned 2015 opening.

Sparacino argued that opening the land to competition could fetch the city a higher price, either from other bidders or from Montana's group. But the star power of the man who won four Super Bowls in the Bay Area carried the day.

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime," Santa Clara mayor Jamie Matthews said. "It's something we can only dream of."

The group now has 18 months to negotiate a lease with city officials, who still must approve the final project.

Councilwoman Jamie McLeod was the lone vote against Montana.

"You're truly one of the greatest players to play in the league," McLeod said. "But we shouldn't limit the offer to one party."

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