The 49ers are offering new clarity to an internal restructuring that took place earlier this month.
“Last week, the 49ers underwent an organizational restructuring to enable success for the future. This restructuring did not impact the level of resources supporting the Stadium Manager, and, in turn, Non-NFL Events and the operation of Levi’s Stadium,” said a spokesperson for the San Francisco 49ers. “In fact, the support will be better than ever with Emily Eskin in the role of leading all Non-NFL Events, having just turned the biggest year of Non-NFL Event revenue; and Francine Hughes, a nationally respected leader, in the role of guiding the stadium operations department.”
The 49ers say Francine Hughes will take over as Executive Vice President and General Manager of Levi’s Stadium.
According to the website The Org, Hughes most recently worked as Chief of Staff to the Chairman of McCourt Global, a private family company that works in many different industries including real estate, sports, technology, media and finance.
Prior to that, she served as vice president of stadium operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers where she managed the stadium and the fan experience.
The issue of organizational restructuring was brought up at the most recent Santa Clara City Council meeting. Mayor Lisa Gillmor pushed back against the proposed stadium operating budget presented to the Council, saying it did not reflect the restructuring.
“A lot of things I have relate around this restructuring, whatever this is going to be because I don’t want to submit a budget to the trustees and the banks knowing that this isn’t the true budget,” said Gillmor at the meeting.
The mayor said she was concerned about the layoffs, which included Jim Mercurio, the executive vice president and general manager of the stadium.
The Forty-Niners Management Company (ManCo) spokesperson present at the City Council meeting offered to talk offline about the specifics of the restructuring but said he was not in a position to speak to individual employment matters. He did not mention the hiring of Hughes at that time.
Gillmor argued that restructuring usually means cost savings, something that was not reflected in the budget, which included additional jobs. The ManCo spokesperson said this restructuring is separate from the additional jobs in the presented stadium budget.
“The additional heads added to the shared stadium expenses and the reorganization that actually took place, they’re mutually exclusive. We think that there’s going to be some savings in shared stadium expenses and we’ll assess and forecast those appropriately moving forward,” said the ManCo spokesperson. “Regarding the additional heads in shared stadium expenses, we think that by bringing parking in house, we would expect to have a much better product that enables us to train and develop staff in the Levi’s Stadium way, if you will.”
City staff says the budget was submitted to them before the restructuring occurred and was therefore not reflected in the budget presented to the Council.
Francine Hughes worked in the front office for the Dodgers during the time when owner Frank McCourt took one of the most successful franchises in MLB into bankruptcy and she continued to work for him after he was forced by MLB to sell the team. That’s quite a resume.
Didn’t realize she had a hand in any of that. Sounds like you need to do some fact checking.
I did some fact checking and it is raises more question. Ms. Hughes worked in commercial real estate and then was hired as the Director od Stadium Operations at Dodger Stadium with no known stadium or event experience. While in that job, which included being in charge of stadium security, Giants fan Brian Stow was attacked and permanently disabled. Part of the blame was leveled at cuts Hughes made in LAPD staffing and failure to man observation towers. After the Dodgers were sold in 2013, she moved to the McCourt company (Frank McCourt was the owner who forced the team into bankruptcy) where she was most recently the Chief of Staff to the CEO. She has not worked in a stadium for ten years and by her own bio, has never worked in an NFL stadium. An NFL game is far more complex than a baseball game. There was no known nation-wide search for a new stadium manager to find the most qualified candidate. The same person who was CFO of the Dodgers during the McCourt era is now CFO of the 49ers, which seems to be Hughes’s only connection. How do you replace someone with 28 years of experience with some who years ago had 4 years of experience? Don’t the citizens of Santa Clara have a right to expect that the manager of their billion dollar investment be the most qualified person possible?
Research is a great idea. Mccourt got rich sucking the Dodgers dry and she was there assisting. She was paid handsomely to do so.
Niners nation beware!
If the approved budget didn’t include the cost benefit of the layoffs, but did include allocations for new hires, then it does sound off. However, it’s a budget, not actual results and aren’t payments to the city’s general fund paid from actual results?
From what I’ve seen in financial reports, the City and 49ers are still paying down debt on the stadium so any revenue the city thinks should show as a profit is actually an offset. Benefit to the local community is currently realized through jobs provided at the stadium and spending in surrounding restaurants, hotels, transit, etc. Like most other NFL stadiums, Levi’s will start to produce positive income once its debt has been paid down. If mayor and council were really concerned about fiscal responsibility and taxpayer money it would freeze all pay and benefit increases for 3-4 years. City employees here are compensated way above surrounding cities.
Just A Distraction,
You are mistaken about the disagreements some in Santa Clara have with Forty Niners stadium management.
One big complaint is that the Forty Niners’ management of the stadium has resulted in no profit from nonfootball revenue since 2018 or before I believe. Five years of no profit from nonfootball events including from this year with new allowance to violate the weeknight event curfew a few times.
The city is supposed to get fifty percent of profits from nonfootball events. The Forty Niners promised profits from nonfootball events when they were selling the stadium to the city and this is on top of paying rent.
We do not need to wait until the construction cost debt is fully paid down to make a profit from the stadium. We should not have to wait for this. The Forty Niners’ ability to effectively manage the stadium is in doubt given the lack of a single dollar in profit from nonfootball events for five years or more. They seem to be either incompetent or dishonestly keeping profits to themselves.
But we cannot verify this for sure because the city is not given full access to the stadium management’s accounting records. The current city council majority settled with the team to drop the litigation seeking this access. They also fired former city manager Deanna Santana when she commissioned a forensic accounting recreation of the stadium’s finances.
The Forty Niners pumped millions of dollars into campaigning for this city council majority in the past two elections. It seems clear that they spent millions of dollars because this city council majority’s voting saves them many millions more over the long term.
I do not know if you write your own headlines or not but the quotes from the Forty Niners do not offer clarity on the restructuring and layoff of thirty employees including the longtime general manager of the stadium.
The Forty Niners offered you quotations that give an incomplete explanation they hope the city and public will accept instead of asking for actual clarity.
“Clarity” would be explaining why these thirty employees were laid off or fired. It would be explaining how it is possible that the loss of these thirty people “did not impact the level of resources supporting the Stadium Manager. Or it would be explaining how it is that they had thirty apparently useless people on the payroll that the people of Santa Clara share the cost of.
It would be explaining what was deficient about the performance of Jim Mercurio that caused the Forty Niners to fire him. Or it would be his stating the reason for wanting to leave.
There is none of this in what you have quoted as statements from them. The Forty Niners have not offered clarity.
After more research, it has become clear that the majority of those fired by the Niners were long time and more important elder employees who were highly paid. To avoid a lawsuit they also laid off several low level inconsequential employees to cover up the age bias of these firings. Still, those tactics do not stop a legitimate lawsuit from being filed. Stay tuned.