....It was ballsy that York and Yu were even pitching banks in 2011. After joining the team, Yu -- tall and skinny, a fast talker and an even faster thinker -- had produced a stadium state-of-the-union report, detailing the reasons the project could meet York's 2015 deadline. Even with $200 million from the NFL in startup money, York had to raise nearly $1 billion over the next two years, more than twice what most owners borrow for new stadiums. But after he discussed with Yu the combination of low interest rates on loans, good projections on ticket sales and how Silicon Valley's young millionaires would buy expensive suites, he asked his team president, "Why can't we just do it now?"
By that, York meant accelerating the stadium opening to 2014. Yu felt it was a huge risk. To meet construction deadlines, they'd have to raise $850 million in about a month. Yu reminded York that banks usually entertain such requests only once, and they would need to see how the loan would be repaid. But the 49ers were still working on sponsorships and had yet to sell any seat licenses. And if they couldn't sell hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of those licenses, the family might have to sell the team -- or, per league rules, the NFL could seize it and sell it -- to repay the loan. "That would be the consequence of a bad decision," Yu says now.
The public humiliation from losing the family's prized possession would be worse than Louisiana. But as York puts it, "If you believe in something, you're willing to take the risk." He and Yu set up 50 meetings in Manhattan with executives of the world's biggest banks and spent weeks working 18-hour days to prepare.
They were nervous, and they knew that the banks would try to exploit their desperation. In one of the first meetings, they got an offer to finance the entire $850 million -- with a catch: The bank wanted to include naming rights, which were valued at more than $200 million. York immediately said no. Yu sat next to him, astonished. York's entire life was riding on this deal, but after years of asking people to show faith in him, he showed confidence in himself and moved on to the next bank. The decision confirmed to Yu what he had suspected when he left Mark Zuckerberg to join the 49ers: that his current boss was as wired to "take on the world" as his former one was.
Then it happened: A bank said yes to partially funding the stadium -- without getting naming rights. And then others began to follow. Emerging from one meeting in a 49th-floor conference room, York ran toward Yu and hugged him so hard that they fell over in the hallway.
A few weeks later, York took the call bearing the loan that put them over the top. This time, he actually did cry. "You just say, 'Wow,'" York says. "Nobody thought we could do this. We were literally the only people in the world who thought this could happen, and it did."....
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