49ers renege on youth soccer field promise unless they get more parking

The Santa Clara stadium for the San Francisco 49ers may be going well in most respects, but at least there’s something for residents to be legitimately upset about:

After the San Francisco 49ers rallied support for their new stadium by promising to pay for new youth soccer fields, the NFL team isn’t following through with its part of the deal — and taxpayers will be left footing the multimillion dollar bill…

Jed York, owner of the 49ers, told the soccer league in a letter two years ago that the team would fund replacement fields. But the team’s front office shocked the soccer league last week by telling them the Niners had abandoned those plans.

“You feel betrayed or lied to,” said Matt Heintz, president of the 1,500-member Santa Clara Youth Soccer League, which had supported the new stadium that voters approved public financing for in 2010. “It sounds like they got what they wanted, they got the stadium built — and pushed us aside, brushed us under the rug.”

The current youth soccer fields won’t be usable during football season because of 49ers fan traffic, and the cost of just studying how to build new fields is estimated to be about $2 million. (The cost of actually acquiring and building the fields is unknown.) Mayor Jamie Matthews claims that the project won’t use general fund money, but it’s tough to say how he knows this, since he doesn’t even know how much it will cost, let alone how it will be paid for.
I was puzzling over why the 49ers are suddenly drawing a line in a sand over this issue — even if the cost turns out to be several million dollars, that’s a rounding error on a billion-dollar-plus project — until I got to the last paragraph of the Mercury News article:

But last week one of York’s vice presidents in the front office said in a letter to the soccer league that the local school fields they had looked into upgrading are “no longer available.” It said now the 49ers would only fund replacement fields if the soccer league was willing to give up its prized soccer park to the Niners to use for VIP stadium parking.

So from the sound of it, this is less the 49ers owners inexplicably backing away from a commitment, and more them suddenly demanding a land swap in exchange because as we know, they’re desperate for parking. Which is still backing out of a promise, but at least it’s explicable.

9 comments on “49ers renege on youth soccer field promise unless they get more parking

  1. Funny how even though the meathead put it in writing, they can’t or won’t be sued by city.

  2. Memo to Heintz: When you are dealing with lying scumbags, expect to be lied to and just generally treated as you would be by scumbags.

    And don’t let the fact that they are “only currently” seeking to absorb your present playing fields lull you into a false sense of security over what else they might want in future.

    In other news that might interest you, there is no Santa Claus, and the door to door salesman doesn’t really want to help you get cleaner carpets, he just wants to sell you a $1200 vacuum cleaner.

  3. “… the cost of just studying how to build new fields is estimated to be about $2 million.”

    Oh, to be a paid “studier”!

    Teams resort to some despicable tactics, but this may be a new low.

  4. Where are all the folks (who don’t live in Santa Clara) who keep posting what an awesome deal for the city this is?

  5. This is an awesome deal (at least in terms of money and prestige) for Santa Clara and it’s residents.

    We were waiting for you, Jay. And you disappointed us all by not commenting on this deceptively framed “news” item.

  6. Sure it’s news, Ben.

    The 49ers spent most of 2009 getting our City Council to lap up a bunch a silly nonsense about some “synergy” between their overpriced, overblown playpen and the other athletic facilities in its shadow.

    Now that the Soccer Park is just too close to their stadium, the 49ers want Santa Clarans to do with less amenities which are now more difficult to get to. They won’t guarantee access to the Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park during an NFL event because, um, well, that’s just too hard.

    And they won’t pay the $12M to relocate the Youth Soccer Park even though they agreed to do that when their parcel map came before City Council on Nov. 9th, 2010. Interestingly, the San Francisco 49ers took exactly that amount _out_ of our property taxes in January of this year (The 49ers will take away $35,000,000 in northside property tax receipts before they’re done – money we could be using on our schools or for opening the North Side Library, at long last.)

    Once the 49ers chummed the waters with Button-Fly Stadium, ancillary developments on our city’s north side are going to kill both our Golf and Tennis Club and a BMX track on which our own Police Activities League hosts events.

    The “synergy” argument, horse apples then, smells even more rank today. And the $1,000,000,000 debt which will ultimately be down to our Santa Clara Stadium Authority – and not to Jed York – will be the same billion.

    So, Ben: Bought your PSL in the 49ers’ stadium yet?

    William F. “Bill” Bailey, Treasurer,


  7. In yesterday’s Santa Clara Weekly, editorial by the Weekly’s owner, Miles Barber:

    “When it comes to giving away the store, our City Council is close to doing just that.
    You may have read that the 49ers want our soccer park for parking their VIP ticket holders.

    Our soccer park sits literally in the shadow of the stadium and is owned by the City.
    Now, originally the 49ers promised the soccer park would be available on game days.

    Then they agreed they would build three new soccer fields in Santa Clara so the soccer kids would have a place to play on game day to avoid the traffic issues.
    Now, with the support of Mayor Jamie Matthews and two other councilpersons, Patty Mahan and Pat Kolstad, they are pushing to just take the soccer park and forget about building new fields for the kids. Kind of like a corporate “eminent domain” strategy.

    As you can imagine, this idea has not fared well in the soccer community. With over 2,000 kids using the soccer park regularly, it is one of the major youth sporting attractions in our City.
    Why would our Mayor and long-term council members be lobbying for this give away?

    As you have always known, “Follow the money.”
    It has been reported the 49ers invested tens of thousands into the campaigns of these three elected officials. They simply want a return on their investment.
    A free soccer park, where the land is valued at more than $50 million dollars, would be a hell of a return.

    However, four other council members see this land grab a bit differently. Teresa O’Neill, Jerry Marsalli, Lisa Gillmor and Debi Davis want the 49ers to make good on their promise. Build new fields for our kids then we will discuss a parking agreement on the soccer park.
    While nearly every council member has supported the stadium project, the four dissenters on the soccer park issue feel Santa Clara has given enough.

    It should not come as a surprise to anyone involved in the stadium project that parking was, and is, a problem. This topic has been on the agenda for years, even before the first shovel was plunged into dirt.
    The 49ers have diligently been seeking agreements with nearby corporations in addition to working with the City to provide adequate parking for stadium events. In case you haven’t heard, our golf course has been closed for the past two months to build parking pads for 5,000 cars.

    However, the parking prize of the project pivots predominately around the soccer park.
    This 11-acre parcel is the gleaming gem the 49ers have been eyeing with diligent desire.
    But give it away?
    Not likely Santa Clarans want to see that happen.

    Now the rumors start flying and there are rumblings the 49ers might attempt to block the Joe Montana project until they get their way. Based on Joe’s record, they would have a better chance at winning the Spaghetti Bowl.
    Wait a minute. Is our Mayor the Mayor of Santa Clara or Mayor for the 49ers?

    Who should Patty Mahan and Pat Kolstad owe their allegiance too? Logic would say the citizens of Santa Clara.
    Matthews and Kolstad are up for re-election this year. Mahan is stepping down after her 20 year run. Do these three really want to give away our soccer park before the election?

    Obviously this dissention on City Council wasn’t intended to go public. However it’s difficult not to see and hear the fireworks exploding over City Hall.”

  8. City should let Related develop the soccer park (better land for them since it’s not on a landfill) and have Related pay to move the soccer park into whatever they build on the golf course.