Whether you were passionate enough about the Giants or Patriots to paint your face, or simply interested in the famed commercials, the National Football League thanks you and the estimated 111 million other viewers for watching Super Bowl XLVI this past Sunday night.

Not only did you enjoy a fairly close game, you also indirectly helped kick-start construction on the San Francisco 49ers new $1 billion stadium in Santa Clara.

Why? It was the promise of uber-high TV ratings for the Super Bowlplus the 512 regular-seasons games, preseason contests, and other pro football-related eventsthat enabled the league to negotiate a nine-year rights fee extension with its broadcast partners expected to bring in nearly $40 billion over the next nine years.

That windfall, in turn, allowed the League to replenish its stadium construction fund, which in turn allowed the 32 franchise owners to approve a $200 million package to help fund the new Santa Clara facility. Other recent beneficiaries of the fund include the Giants and Jets’ Met Life Stadium in New Jersey ($300 million), and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas ($150 million).

The 1.85 million-sq ft, 68,500-seat stadium, a design-build project led by a joint venture of Turner Construction Co. and Devcon Construciton, Inc., with HNTB as architect, is considered a long-overdue replacement to San Francisco’s 52-year-old Candlestick Park, the last NFL venue to have opened a baseball-only facility.

In addition to being away from the Candlestick Point’s notoriously dicey mircoclimate, the new stadium promises all the amenities demanded by both the team and spectators. And unlike Candlestick, which has no mass transit service, the new stadium will be accessible by both light and heavy rail lines, and offer more than double the parking spaces and freeway exits.

In addition to the NFL’s loan and direct payment contribution, funds for the Santa Clara stadium are also being drawn from the sale of luxury boxes, a local hotel tax, $40 million from the City, and future revenues in the form of ticket sales, seat licenses, naming rights, corporate sponsorships. (It remains to be seen how that financial model fares in the StubHub-driven era of secondary ticket markets.)

With the funding in place and potential obstructive legal challenges apparently no longer a problem, construction activity will likely now accelerate beyond preliminary work on the 15-acre site. The Santa Clara Stadium Authority is aiming to have the new stadium ready to host the 49ers’ 2014 season.