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Stadium Authority Ponders Drawbacks of Large-Scale Events in Light of Financial Findings

By being involved in the marketing of Levi’s Stadium, the Santa Clara Stadium Authority Board hopes to avoid scheduling non-NFL events that lose money.

The topic came up during a financial report of stadium operations Tuesday night. In a press release issued Monday, Mayor Lisa Gillmor bemoaned that, on average, stadium events only generate $55,000 per event. However, the average is dragged down significantly by four non-NFL football games that cost the Stadium Authority $3.6 million.

Meanwhile, six major ticketed events brought in $2.4 million to the City’s General Fund.


Still, the Council placed much emphasis on the 113 smaller non-ticketed events held at Levi’s Stadium — which brought in $3.6 million — because those events have a decreased impact on adjacent neighborhoods. A community poll, conducted in tandem with the study, shows that 78 percent of “near neighbors” polled are “somewhat concerned” and roughly 30 percent of voters are equally concerned about the impact on adjacent neighborhoods resulting from big-ticket events.

Issues of drinking, loitering, drug use, traffic, noise and litter have plagued the areas surrounding the stadium, leaving the Council wondering whether it’s worth avoiding bigger events such as Wrestlemania, Monster Jam, or the U2 and Taylor Swift concerts.

“We have to have more control over this,” said Council Member Debi Davis. “I really want to see some stability with revenue and taking care of our residents.”

The City has begrudgingly tolerated these issues because of claims by Jim Mercurio, manager at Levi’s Stadium, that stadium events generate between $600,000 and $800,000 per event.

Holding events, such as the two high school and two college football games, that lost money makes sense because they foster relationships, Mercurio said.

“There are some risks you are going to take … you don’t know how many tickets are going to be sold,” he said. “Typically, you aren’t always going to have events that make money.”

Gillmor said the Stadium Authority Board needed to “see [ManCo’s] side of the ledger,” noting the irony that the non-NFL events that generate the most money for the City are not the non-NFL football games the stadium hosts. Being able to see how much money each event generates will allow the Board to make “data-driven decisions,” she added.

Further, as per the stadium agreement, the Board is supposed to get reports on non-NFL events that include details of events hosting more than 25,000 people. To date, the City says it has yet to receive any of those reports, which would help the City have a say in how to market the stadium to ensure ManCo does not schedule events that lose money, such as the non-NFL football games.

“They either overstated or underpaid us — or both,” Gillmor said. “It is our duty that if there is money owed, we make sure we get that.”


Efforts for College Football Playoff Ramp Up

Mercurio also laid out details for the 2019 College Football Playoff to be held at Levi’s Stadium.

He said the procedure for road closure will be similar to any other large-scale event, with Tasman being closed the day of the game.

A tailgate party, open only to the roughly 70,000 ticketed attendees, will feature hospitality tents, food and live music the day of the game.

Local hotels, the Santa Clara Convention Center and Great America will all play host to various events in the days prior to the game, Mercurio said.

November, Mercurio said, is the month when ManCo “really starts to roll up [its] sleeves.”


Changes for Taxi Companies

Dan Winter, assistant police chief, presented the Council some changes to the ordinance regulating taxis. As per state law, Santa Clara will update its regulations on taxis to “ease the burden” in light of the rise of rideshare apps such as Lyft and Uber.

State law requires the City to modify its regulations by the start of 2019.

The new regulations will eliminate the taxi stand fee, reduce the required cabs in a company’s fleet from 10 to seven, require federal drug testing and review permits annually instead of every five years. The biggest change will require cab drivers to only obtain a permit from one city in the county as opposed to every city in which they drive.

The new regulations will also put in place regulations for bike cabs, aka pedicabs, similar to taxis. Winter estimated that most of the $18,643 the City collects from the taxi stand fee will be lost.


Campaigning on Public Property 

The Council considered a petition from resident William Esserini petition contending that City Clerk candidate Hosam Haggag’s use of a city park for his campaign kickoff, attended by two Council Members, violated City ordinances.

The 1992 ordinance prohibits non-elected officials from engaging in political activity in city offices and during work hours, explained City Attorney Brian Doyle. “I don’t think there’s anything for the Council to do.”

Watanabe called Esserini’s complaint “totally frivolous,” “ridiculous,” “totally unnecessary,” saying “there may have been other motives.”

“I’m not clear if the previous policy that political signs can’t be displayed on public property is no longer in effect,” said Kolstad. A recent Supreme Court ruling made the City’s ordinance “problematic,” replied Doyle. “We can revise that ordinance to make it illegal to put up any sign on public property.”

“I guess that’s a green light for anybody to put up signs wherever they want,” concluded Kolstad.

“If the city is going to limit my use of City park on a Sunday morning simply based on the content of my speech, nobody can canvas by walking on the public sidewalk,” said Haggag.

The complaint was, he implied, simply a political attack by “a close friend” of his adversaries and connected to “whisper and smear campaigns” maligning his character. The goal he wanted “to push for as City Clerk is bringing people together,” he concluded.

The Council agreed to consider revising the ordinance.

Council Member Patricia Mahan was absent.

The Council meets again 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.


Correction: A previous version of this story claimed that the City of Santa Clara losses out on $3.6 million from non-NFL football games. To be more precise, it is actually the City’s Stadium Authority that loses the money. The article has been updated to reflect this.


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