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Milestones – Good news is welcome! – Opinion

While it is still preseason, football will soon garner the attention of half the country and the SF 49ers will be in the spotlight. Kyle Shanahan and crew have put together an impressive collection of talent, and their win Sunday night was an impressive outing for both offense and defense.

Building Levi’s Stadium was fortuitous in so many ways. It brought to Santa Clara one of the premier football teams in America. Residents must thank past Mayors, Patty Mahan and Jamie Matthews. They led the delegation of Council Members to meet with the NFL in the selection for one of the best stadium locations in the country.

COVID-19 aside, the 49ers team and Levi’s Stadium inject millions into the Santa Clara economy. The stadium was designed to be used by the team for half the year and by the City of Santa Clara the other half.


In normal times, the 49ers sell out their games pulling in millions in ticket sales, concessions, clothing, TV rights, advertising, and a host of additional revenue avenues.

Santa Clara was also doing quite well, until then-Council Member Lisa Gillmor’s agenda was crossed by the democratic process. The 49ers would have liked the area where the soccer fields are located for parking and were prepared to build new soccer fields solely for residents. Gillmor’s plan was to locate these fields on an area of Ulistac Park which would have still left 10 acres of open space for residents.

The idea was first proposed at a September 2013 Council study session, when the Council discussed building a new youth sports complex on Ulistac. In November 2013, the Council gave the go-ahead for the project, appropriating money for a study. (Then-Council Member and former Mayor Patty Mahan opposed it.)

Gillmor endorsed the soccer fields plan, telling the Mercury News, “it would be a good fit” and an “opportunity for more people to explore,” and pooh-poohing the idea that the wetlands would be ruined.

At an April 2014 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, Gillmor ally former Youth Soccer League president and then chair of the commission, Tino Silva, asked the commission to recommend the Ulistac plan to the Council. But he could get no one to support it. When her plan died, Gillmor decided to blame the 49ers, making herself the hero and the 49ers demons. Since 40% of City voters opposed the stadium, she had a great following immediately.

To make sure that the soccer fields would never be moved, Gillmor “selected” members of the Charter Review Committee who changed the charter, cementing the life of the soccer fields next to the Stadium. In addition, she had the committee propose a ballot issue that would protect “Ulistac Natural Area” into perpetuity. This was to make sure the 49ers could never move the soccer fields.

Frankly, the 49ers forgot about the frenzy and moved on. But Gillmor wouldn’t quit and seized upon several shenanigans to shed shadows of doubt about the 49ers.

Some of her actions included 1) Cutting out late night performances at the stadium 2) Refusing to pay Santa Clara’s share of Stadium Authority bills, 3) Ordering a full-scale audit of the 49ers that produced nothing.

There were more, but just these actions have cost taxpayers millions. No wonder Attorney Brain Doyle is still employed. They are like two nuts in the same shell.


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