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Milestones – Vision with Vitality! – Opinion

It was just a bit more than a decade ago, former Santa Clara Mayor Patty Mahan met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at Great America. It was a meeting that changed the landscape and dynamic of Santa Clara.

The Niners had searched the Bay Area for a suitable site to build a new stadium without success and with little support from their host city, San Francisco. However, Mahan and the City Council had a brainstorm that would change Santa Clara’s landscape for generations.

Mahan invited Goodell to take a 22-story ride to the top of Great America’s Sky Trek Tower to look over the area and see what might be possible. It didn’t take long. Goodell viewed a property just off freeway 101 offering wide streets, great access for ingress and egress and enough room to house the home of a 70,000-seat stadium and even available space for parking. In addition, the nearest residential area was nearly a mile away.


Goodell pledged $300 million from the NFL to help build what became Levi’s Stadium and the new home to the SF 49ers. A special vote by residents passed with nearly a 60 percent majority in favor of building the $1.2 billion venue. The result has been the creation of a fabulous asset in the South Bay, making the 49ers partners with Santa Clara in Levi’s Stadium.

It was apparent early on the 49ers would require more parking for games. In addition, more parking would be great for numerous huge events at the stadium. The 49ers thought it would be great to use the soccer fields for overflow and thought they had the Council support to make that reality.

It didn’t happen! At the urging of Lisa Gillmor and her husband, both with some close ties to the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League, (Gillmor’s husband is coaching director) called in the hundreds of soccer supporters who showed up at the meeting and shot down the idea at City Council.

Even though the 49ers agreed to build new soccer facilities for SCS if the 49ers could use the current soccer park for parking, Gillmor and her soccer supporters wouldn’t budge.

The day after Super Bowl 2016, Mayor Jamie Matthews abruptly resigned. Gillmor then lobbied council members to appoint her mayor, to complete Matthews’ term. The Council capitulated and she has used that position for the last six years to besmirch and belittle the 49ers at every opportunity.

Interesting, there’s not a peep out of the 49ers as they have moved on, playing football, winning games, reaching the Super Bowl in 2020, supporting Santa Clara schools, helping businesses, making the stadium available as a vaccination site, hosting hundreds of events, and making money for themselves and Santa Clara.

Just think what the 49ers could do and how Santa Clara could thrive with a supportive and cooperative partner!

Santa Clara might garner a visionary city manager who is a maker, as opposed to a taker.


  1. Patty Picard 2 years ago

    Just gotta love your revisionist history. The Niners were not going to build a new youth stadium. Instead they offered $$ so the school district could improve the football fields.

  2. EDWARD C STRINE 2 years ago

    Correct me if I am wrong. I thought that Niner ownership changed their minds about funding new Soccer Fields for the City of Santa Clara.

  3. Kirk Vartan 2 years ago

    OMG…what a crock. How quickly one forgets that Jed York decided to renege on a *letter* that he wrote to the council, saying they would build…what, THREE soccer fields! Jed said, “No thanks.” Oh, and what about when Mayor Matthews and the old City Manager were going to sell the Youth Soccer field for pennies on the dollar to the 49ers for VIP parking….under radar. No public input. Until there was a LOT of public input. What a joke this option piece is. It’s more of a fantasy story….wishful thinking. Where is the honest recap of the almost a dozen lawsuits filed by the 49ers against the City? The reducing of their rent? Cutting their taxes that starve the schools by $36M? Never showing up to meetings? Holding back documents? Ignoring and stonewalling the finance audit? Funding council elections to get roadblocks (the City Attorney) our of the way? Talking trash to the press? Oh yeah, great partners. I’ll take two. I guess the ad revenue and sponsorship this organization gets from the 49er foundation and corporate is flowing nicely. Like they say, everyone has opinions.

  4. CSC 2 years ago

    It’s been more than 11 years since voters approved support for Levi’s Stadium and 7-1/2 years since it officially opened. Two constants have remained since then: 1) the site has provided a great amount of revenue to the local community and 2) the City Council has griped about it at every turn.

    The San Francisco 49ers are a significant business partner in this community, both revenue wise and brand recognition. Events at Levi’s stadium provides jobs to include part-time income to “double-badged” peace officers and medical aid personnel. Aside from venue business relationship, the owner of the organization has donated funds to stand up for civil rights in the way of supporting district voting which helped produced the City’s first elected minority representatives. Two members of the current City Council and the majority of former members of the council have opposed additional income resources for community members and spent taxpayer money on suppressing minority representation in government.

    Today there are a number of problems the City of Santa Clara needs to desperately work on, the 49ers organization is not one of them and neither are youth soccer fields. The majority City Council should focus on moving forward with this business partnership by removing all self-serving and acrimonious members and city management. There is no benefit to Santa Clarans for Deanna Santana wearing three hats especially when she’s not the most competent to wear them.

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