Santa Clara awarded Levi's Stadium rent increase through arbitration

- The long-fought dispute between the San Francisco 49ers and the City of Santa Clara  has come to a close. An arbiter awarded the city a hefty increase over the life of the Levi’s Stadium lease.

The team wanted a one-time rent reduction from $24.25 million to $19 million, and over the months sought compromise at $20 million based on what they called "unanticipated successes with construction and operation expenses." The city balked, which led the 49ers to take the arbitration route.​​​​​​

That touched off a back-and-forth between the two parties, prompting the city’s mayor Monday to suggest both sides wave the confidentiality clause, so all the details can come to light.

“You’ll see in the arbitration there was a lot more money at stake than even the reduction in rent,” said incumbent Mayor Lisa Gillmor.

Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with her colleagues on the city council, and sporting a Chesire Cat grin, Gillmor says she was confident deep digging by council and staff would prove their claims.

“I think it’s a tremendous victory for the city of Santa Clara and completely vindicates us in what we were trying to do, in standing up to make sure there were enough funds available for the stadium in the 40-year lease term,” said Gillmor

Two years ago, the 49ers approached the city about reducing the Levi’s Stadium rent, because operating revenues were below projections.

An arbitrator recently ruled the rent should be set at $24.7 million, representing an increase of $262,000 each year and $10.4 million over the life of the stadium lease. 

“We’ll be able to pay off the stadium at an accelerated rate and make sure there will be money for capital improvements,” said Gillmor.

Representatives from the 49ers declined a request for an on-camera interview, and instead issued a statement that reads in part, “Mayor Gillmor will always put her interest before those of everyday Santa Clarans. The stadium lease is a matter of public record. Attempting to give it new life media is a distraction tactic to avoid questions about her use of public funds...”

“We really would like them to stop their emotional outbursts about me, and start working with the city of Santa Clara because we actually invited them to be here in our community. So they need to start playing fair and work fairly with us,” said Gillmor

Mayor Gillmor says she’ll ask city council members next Tuesday to approve waiving the confidentiality clause and wants to 49ers to do the same immediately, so the fine print can be read by everyone. Also, she wants prompt back payments for missed rent from the team, as well as attorney fees for this process.

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