The Santa Clara City Council will consider subpoenaing the Forty Niners Management Company (ManCo) to get hold of the documents detailing the City’s responsibilities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
At its Tuesday night meeting, Mayor Lisa Gillmor implored the Council to agendize what to do about the Council’s lack of understanding regarding a series of soccer games to be held at Levi’s Stadium. The Council already told ManCo it wanted to see the documents by the beginning of February.
In the absence of those documents, Gillmor called on the Council to consider subpoenaing ManCo to get what the City needs.
“We have no idea what is expected of us, and we need to be prepared,” she said. “Other communities that will be hosting World Cup events have been working on their World Cup preparations for as long as 18 months.”
City Attorney Glen Googins said a subpoena would be an “unusual tool” that may not be the “appropriate legal mechanism” to get the documents the City needs. Nonetheless, Googins acknowledged the need to “impress upon [ManCo] the importance” of the situation, saying his department views it as “very serious.”
Police Chief Pat Nikolai wrote a letter supporting Gillmor’s request. In it, he said his department does not have “critical” information it needs to keep the City safe during the games.
Such considerations include: what type of perimeter is needed and for how long, how many teams and games are set to be played at Levi’s Stadium, any ancillary events that will require security as well as any visiting officials that need security.
“This is a responsible thing for us to do,” Gillmor later said. “If we take no action, and we just say ‘Oh, we’ll just wait until they give us the documents,’ that is irresponsible in terms of protecting our community from what is going to happen to us. These are major events.”
Googins said his department is slated to meet with ManCo on April 19. The Council approved putting the item on the May 23 agenda once City employees have had a chance to return with options for the Council to get compliance from ManCo.
The motion passed unanimously.
Council Supports Bill for Gay Marriage Remaining Legal
The Council also supported repealing Proposition 8, which prohibited gay marriage in 2008. Assembly Member Evan Low asked for the Council’s support of ACA 5, a bill he authored to repeal the state’s gay marriage ban prior to the Supreme Court of the United States ruling upholding its legality.
Low said the repeal is a necessary precaution to protect Californians from reverting to the previous state law should the political tide on the Supreme Court shift.
“As we know, the current makeup of the United States Supreme Court overturned reproductive freedom for individuals in the United States,” Low said. “Never in our lifetimes could we imagine that 50 years of precedent and overturning rights we are afforded would be overturned, but that unfortunately is the current environment we are living in.”
By supporting ACA 5, Santa Clara is reflecting its “values of diversity and inclusion,” Low added.
If passed by a two-thirds majority in the legislature, the repeal would come before the voters in November 2024.
Nearly everyone spoke favorably of the effort, with Vice Mayor Kevin Park saying finding such consensus among the Council is a rare occurrence that should be cherished.
However, John Haggerty was alone in the Council Chambers as the voice of dissent. He called the consideration a “distraction.” Since Prop. 8 defined marriage, he said, if the repeal passes, marriage will not be defined. Consequently, the legislature will be able to define it. Such matters are outside the purview of the Council, he said.
“This is a municipal organization, not a constitutional review organization,” he said. “I don’t want to empower Sacramento on this important issue.”
Despite Haggerty’s objection, the Santa Clara City Council unanimously passed a letter of support of ACA 5 in a 6-0 vote.
Entertainment Spending for Stadium Marketing Chaffs Council Minority
A seemingly routine consent calendar item pulled for discussion turned into a back-and-forth among the Council about stadium revenue. The item in question was the retroactive approval of $44,162 for non-NFL event marketing, travel, networking and client entertainment.
Council Member Kathy Watanabe pulled the item, saying the reports on how the stadium manager spent the money were very vague.
“We haven’t seen any profits as a result of these trips. There have been no profits to our general fund,” she said. “The stadium management is spending stadium authority money that’s been budgeted for the marketing plan, but we have had no return on investment that we have seen.”
Some of the expenses included alcohol, which chaffed Watanabe. She said tax money shouldn’t fund alcohol consumption.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor called it an “open checkbook for entertainment.”
“This is just a lot of wining and dining that shouldn’t be on the public’s dime,” Gillmor said.
But others on the Council pushed back, saying the stadium is beginning to earn money for non-NFL events, with Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Ed Sheeran all booked for this year. Marketing events — and the expenses that go along with them — are part of that investment.
Council Member Suds Jain said he doesn’t need a detailed report on the $58 million a year that is spent in service of Levi’s Stadium.
Ultimately, despite Watanabe’s motion to reject the expenses, a substitute motion to continue the item until City employees can return with a report detailing the expenses passed unanimously.
Council Member Anthony Becker was absent.
Consent Calendar Spending
- A three-year, $4.8 million contract with West Coast Turf to lay sod at Levi’s Stadium.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, April 18 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.
Members of the public can participate in the City Council meetings on Zoom at https://santaclaraca.zoom.us/j/99706759306; Meeting ID: 997-0675-9306 or call 1(669) 900-6833, via the City’s eComment (available during the meeting) or by email to PublicComment@santaclaraca.gov.