The 49ers Stadium Management Company (Manco) told Santa Clara last month to expect an 85 percent drop in the revenue from non-NFL events that goes into the City’s general fund because of the 10 p.m. weekday curfew.
If the City Council doesn’t believe the 49ers, they can ask concert promotion legend and AEG partner Louis Messina, who says unequivocally, “I will never, ever do a show there on a weekday.”
Messina booked the highest grossing U.S. concert tour of all time, Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour, and received CMA’s 2018 Touring Lifetime Achievement Award. Messina also brought the first concerts to Levi’s Stadium — Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift.
One of his shows was Ed Sheeran’s 2018 tour, which famously canceled its original plan to play Levi’s Stadium and moved the show to San Francisco.
The reason, plain and simple, was the Santa Clara City Council’s 10 p.m. weekday curfew for stadium events, said Messina. “That’s the reason we moved Ed Sheeran to San Francisco last year,” he explained. “Ed Sheeran sold out instantly. But he only sold 42,000 tickets instead of 55,000 tickets. Everybody lost on that one.”
The Santa Clara Stadium Authority (SCSA) — the public legal entity that owns Levi’s Stadium and whose board is the Santa Clara City Council — lost big on San Francisco’s gain.
That loss is around $580,000, based on the numbers from last year’s U2 and Coldplay concerts — the $4 ticket surcharge revenue ($134,000) and half the event net revenue ($450,000).* That money would have built up the SCSA’s discretionary, operations, maintenance and capital improvement accounts.
The City of Santa Clara was a loser, too; missing out on sales and hotel tax and parking fees the City didn’t receive, plus $450,000 of net event revenue paid directly to the City’s general fund as performance rent. That $450,000 could, for example, increase Santa Clara’s budget for community events by 80 percent. (Santa Clara Annual Operating Budget 2017-2018 p.12-9).
In fact, the only party not to lose by Sheeran’s cancellation was the 49ers — they get no share of non-NFL event revenues.
Sheeran’s decision to skip Santa Clara wasn’t an aberration, Messina said. “Performers won’t come to Santa Clara if they can only play on weekends.
“No artist will play if you can’t route on a weekday,” he continued. “That’s reality. There’s only one Friday and one Saturday in a week and tours do 20-40 stadium shows. Performers like Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, when they tour they do two or three shows a week and you need two or three days in between.”
Then there’s the traffic issue. “Having a show that would start at 6 p.m. is right during rush hour,” Messina said. “The doors would have to open at 4 p.m.” Light shows that have become staples of stadium concerts would have to begin in daylight — when they can’t be seen. “Artists spend all this money on production,” said Messina. “They don’t want to play in the daylight.”
The City Council has been told this before — and by the only concert promotion company that’s bigger than Messina’s: Live Nation Entertainment.
At an August 2017 Stadium Authority meeting that was dominated by the curfew issue, Live Nation COO Matt Prieshoff told the City, “We cannot dictate to artists what venue to play, what day of the week to play, or when to play.
“The City diminishes the enthusiasm of artists to play there. Shoreline, PacBell Park have 11 p.m. curfews,” he continued. “If five of those days a week aren’t available to play it’s going to be very hard [to book events at Levi’s].”
Messina makes the same point. If the Santa Clara Council thinks that big name concert tours are going to be “planned around Santa Clara,” they’re utterly mistaken, he said.
“That’s not happening,” said Messina. “If you can’t route weekday concerts to Santa Clara, you’re not going to play there. Either, performers are going to go to San Francisco or Oakland, or they’re going to skip the Bay Area entirely. No artist will play if you can’t route on a weekday. That’s reality.”
Messina called the Council’s intransigence “a shame. It’s one of the nicest stadiums in the country and the people there do a very good job. I love it when I’m there.
“It’s a shame because locals are missing out, too” he continued. Not just events but also “the jobs and economic activity that a concert creates.”
Messina says that Santa Clara’s Mayor and City Council should answer one question. “Is one hour going to make that much difference, or do you just not want concerts? If I was in government I’d be interested in economic impact.”
*Per the SCSA Financial Status Report, Year Ending March 31, 2018 (tinyurl.com/SCSA2017-18YE: The U2 and Coldplay concerts together produced net revenue of $1,819,099. Average net revenue per concert is $909,550 and half of that is $454,775. The ticket fees for the two concerts together were $375,188, and an average of that is $134,194. Half the net revenue remains with the SCSA and the other half goes to the City’s general fund.