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Milestones – A Cause for Collaboration – Opinion

Congratulations to the SF 49ers for their win over the Washington Commanders and clinching the top position in the NFL playoffs. Their win gives them a two-week rest as they now prepare for the final push to reach the Super Bowl.

Santa Clara has been the recipient of, and benefited from, the 49ers playing at Levi’s Stadium since 2014.

It remains a quandary as to why Santa Clara’s Mayor Lisa Gillmor and her one remaining council supporter, Kathy Watanabe, continue to be at odds with the team and management.


It is incredibly difficult just to make it to the Super Bowl. The odds of winning are off the chart. Along the way, the 49ers have been exceptionally mindful of residents, fans, schools, nonprofits and community needs. They have been most gracious in sharing their wealth even during dismal days.

You have to wonder what accomplishments could have happened if Mayor Gillmor had developed a working relationship with the team. Remember, they are on paper and by contract, Santa Clara’s business partner. Some council members were bitterly criticized by the 2022 Grand Jury report for even talking to the 49ers. Of course, most residents recognize by now, the Grand Jury report was written and orchestrated by pro-Gillmor allies to be released just prior to elections.

Just imagine if Mayor Gillmor made an honest effort to use her talent, energy and political skills in building a healthy and productive relationship with the 49ers. One thing comes to mind, there would probably be no deficit in the city budget. In fact, Santa Clara could have become one of the wealthiest cities in the Bay Area.

Mayor Gillmor has no need or reason to be an adversary of the 49ers. As mayor, she has the position to provide leadership and vision. This year may provide the opportunity for Gillmor to exercise her political skills and work with her council and the 49ers, preparing Santa Clara to host the 2026 Super Bowl. Just imagine for a moment what an incredible opportunity this is for the Mayor and the 49ers to be on the same team.

The 49ers have proven they are good partners for Santa Clara. Mayor Gillmor has proven she is a skilled politician. Santa Clara city council members are committed to positive decisions benefiting the city.

Collective collaboration could cause a continuous celebration of community.


1 Comment
  1. John Haggerty 6 months ago

    Once again, another thought provoking and timely editorial. My thoughts on this vitally important economic subject are as follows:

    (1) I agree with you that Mayor Gillmor is a “skilled politician”. Furthermore, as I have become fairly well acquainted with all of the Council members (except Council Member Becker) over the years, I am very confident that they are all very thoughtful, intelligent, and knowledgeable people who have the best interests of our City at heart.

    (2) However, I think that the two anti-49ers members are too focused on relatively minor matters like soccer fields, noise levels, litter, parking, curfews, etc. While Council Member Watanabe has done her job in representing those of her constituents who live near the Stadium, the citywide interests in receiving maximum revenues from Stadium events should not be undermined by the parochial concerns of one district. Many have suggested that her constituents could be well compensated for the negative effects of those events on their neighborhood by setting aside free tickets to those constituents (perhaps 500-1,000 per extra event which they could sell if they were not personally interested in attending any given event).

    (3) At the same time, I think that the five pro-49ers members (especially Members Hardy and Becker) are not skeptical enough of the 49ers when it comes to non-NFL events such as concerts and non-American football sports events. When Santa Clarans voted for the Stadium back in 2010 we were told that those events would provide our City with tons of money.

    (4) Of particular concern to me is the negotiations surrounding the FIFA 2026 World Cup. In 2023 City staff entered into an “Information Agreement” with some of the FIFA entities that resulted in the disclosure of an “Agreement” which Manco (the 49ers) entered into with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF)–purportedly on behalf of our Stadium Authority–some time way back in 2018/2019 (possibly unbeknownst to our Stadium Authority). Yet the USSF was not an original party to the 2023 Information Agreement. I do not know if it has subsequently become a party to that agreement. In any event, with sharp international organizations like FIFA and sharp nationwide organizations like the NFL (who may have all sorts of connections of which our City is still unaware), Santa Clara cannot afford to engage in any “amateur hour” negotiations.

    (5) Given all of the foregoing, I agree with your proposal that all of the Council members should now begin to work much more collaboratively and cooperatively together when it comes to our City’s ownership interests in the Stadium. There is just too much money at stake not to do so. More specifically, I would suggest that: (a) “the Two” not focus so much on secondary concerns (which would actually undercut our Stadium revenues) and focus instead on maximizing our non-NFL event revenues; and (b) “the Five” work more closely with “the Two” to much more skeptically analyze the 49ers when it comes to non-NFL events so as to finally greatly increase City revenues from the likes of superstar, Taylor Swift, and the mega-soccer industry.

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