In the latest chapter of Santa Clara City Hall’s four-year-old quarrel with the 49ers, City Manager Deanna Santana sent out another “community letter” attacking the NFL team, assigning them the blame for the fact that high-profit events don’t book Levi’s Stadium anymore, and accusing the team of non-compliance with Measure J.
Santana lambasted the 49ers, first, for the “practice of booking money-losing events” — like high school football games. And second, for billing the Santa Clara Stadium Authority (SCSA) for $2.7 million in operating expenses — the Measure J non-compliance.
The ordinance prevents the City Council from funding stadium operations from the general fund and shared expenses are paid from Stadium Authority revenues.
The recital of grievances ended with the false statement that the team hasn’t reimbursed the City for $1.1 million that’s owed for public safety.
Santana concluded by referencing the City’s $34 million deficit “resulting from an economic downturn due to Covid-19,” saying that the money in dispute “is having a tremendous negative impact on public resources.”
Within less than a day, the 49ers shot back with both barrels blazing.
In a statement to The Weekly, the team said, “Mayor Gillmor and her million dollar a year City Manager are cherry-picking numbers entirely out of context and relying on fuzzy math.”
The statement also called out the Mayor and City Manager for “their army of taxpayer-funded political consultants,” who “have done everything in their power to destroy the stadium event business” and called Santana “a career bureaucrat who has tripled the cost of overhead, due in large part to the alarming increase in the salaries for and benefits to her political allies.”
First, the 49ers counter that Levi’s Stadium “has generated a profit for the Stadium Authority in every year of operation” and “$68 million in revenue* the past year alone,” which is shown the SCSA 2020/2021 budget.
The Stadium delivered cash to Santa Clara’s general fund “every year before City Manager Santana’s arrival,” the 49ers statement continues.
A review of the data shows that while high school football games are money-losers, big events like concerts bring an average of $400,000, each, to the general fund. The current SCSA budget shows that from 2014 until 2018, Levi’s Stadium delivered between $2 and $3 million in performance rent to the general fund.
“Any losses,” the 49ers statement continues, “are due to Ms. Santana’s pushing excessive costs onto the Stadium Authority, creating enough dysfunction to run off the Rolling Stones [wozniak letter rolling stones 2019] and implementing a music ban [the curfew] that lead to Ed Sheeran cancelling his record-breaking tour stop altogether.”
Santana was hired in October 2017, so the curfew argument pre-dates her. The data shows performance rent dropping following the August 2017 Council decision to allow no curfew waivers despite potential revenue losses.
Finally, Santana’s claim that the 49ers are withholding public safety reimbursement is flat out wrong, and it’s not just the 49ers saying so.
At the July 14 Council Meeting City Attorney Brian Doyle explained that the 49ers $1.1 million payment is sitting in a Stadium Authority account, but “because of the present situation,” hadn’t been transferred to the City.
The 49ers concluded their jeremiad by noting that the reimbursement included the costs of a workers comp settlement to a former SCPD officer [Kenneth Henderson] who later pled guilty to fraud.
* Stadium revenues remain in the SCSA accounts and are used to pay expenses and debt, and do not flow to the City’s general fund.