Santa Clara mayor to 49ers: Cough up budget docs, or we’ll seize your stadium

The squabble between Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor and the owners of the San Francisco 49ers over whose money is being spent on what at Levi’s Stadium heated up considerably on Friday, when Gillmor declared that if the 49ers don’t cough up more budget documents, she’ll move to take over management of the stadium:

“We have to stop the bleeding of the General Fund money into the stadium,” she said. “It’s against the law.”

According to Gillmor, city leaders are prepared to manage Levi’s Stadium if the 49ers don’t comply with their current contract with Santa Clara.

“If they don’t cure the breach, we are going to take steps to take back management of the stadium,” she said.

The argument here, as I understand it, is that the 49ers’ contract requires them to itemize spending of city dollars (one possible misuse of public funds was for reseeding the famously problematic field, according to an audit presented to the city on Thursday), so if they don’t provide the documents, they’re in breach of contract, and Santa Clara can take over management of the stadium. That doesn’t seem likely to happen — 49ers execs said they’d provide the missing budget documents by today — but it’s certainly an interesting way to force more transparency. The real test will come if those documents show questionable uses of city funds, and Gillmor demands that they be repaid by the team; stay tuned for much more bookkeeping excitement, I’m sure.

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8 comments on “Santa Clara mayor to 49ers: Cough up budget docs, or we’ll seize your stadium

  1. I grew up as a 49ers/Giants/Warriors fan, and I no longer trust the 49ers or the NFL. I wouldn’t trust the 49ers as far as I could throw them. I hope Santa Clara is able to survive long enough to regret this deal. I wouldn’t mind seeing the entire 49ers organization disappear, but that would doom Santa Clara.

  2. Man I’m really glad they tore down the Stick. Think of the leg room Jed York Field provides for all those fans dressed as empty seats every Sunday!

  3. It sounds like the city has no accounting staff to track costs associated with the stadium operations and are cajoling the 49ers to provide records. BTW, there is a contentious police chief election going on in the city (Santa Clara is the only city in CA that has an elected chief) and the police union (which backs the challenger) is claiming that the city was not tracking their time spent on the stadium–instead charging it to the general fund (mind-boggling if you think about it–what business doesn’t have cost codes where employees enter how their time was spent?).

    Sort of a big deal considered that Santa Clara has some of the nation’s highest paid police officers.

    In short, I always felt that Neil was much too sanguine about the stadium deal here. It seemed obvious to me that the 49ers would cheat the city and get away with most of it. Who knows if they are evenly splitting revenues from alternative stadium events (such as Taylor Swift) fairly with the city?

    If Lisa Gillmor deserves credit for putting her foot down with the team now, she also deserves opprobrium for her absurd playing up of the supposed benefits of the stadium in the Measure J election.

    Life would have been much more simple in Santa Clara if this whole mess was avoided in the first place.

    1. Without the supporting documentation how would any accounting staff know if the costs being reported by the 49ers were legitimate? And given the stadium is a large net loss to the city it is obviously very doubtful they’ve employed accounting staff fully dedicated to tracking the 49ers and the stadium.

  4. The fight continues:

    “Relations between the City of Santa Clara and the San Francisco 49ers reached further deteriorated Tuesday night when the Levi’s Stadium Authority voted unanimously to send the team a “demand letter,” giving the team 30 days to physically deliver documents requested by city auditors.”

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