City of Santa Clara to 49ers: 'Terrible off the field'

The San Francisco 49ers may be terrific on the football field, but Santa Clara city officials say the team is "terrible off the field." 

The city and the team have a contentious relationship.

Now, city leaders say the team is losing lots of money due to poor management of non-National Football League events held at Levi's Stadium.  

For example, a Pac-12 Football Championship game played at Levi's Stadium in November 2018  was a big  loser when it came to revenues for the city of Santa Clara, city leaders said. Officials say it was one of many non-NFL events held at the stadium that lost money during the fiscal year between April 2018 through March 2019.  

"Seventy five percent of ticketed non-NFL events have either lost money or made no money. That's a terrible track record," said Lenka Wright, spokeswoman for Santa Clara. 

Among the money losers are a monster jam, one of Taylor Swift's two concerts and soccer matches: a total loss of $2.6 million. 

The city says its expects to lose more money the next fiscal year, funds that pay for services such as police and fire services.

"They're not doing anything to our knowledge to contain expenses or correct these losses," said Wright.  
But Rahul Chandhok, the 49ers vice president of public affairs and strategic communications, responded in a written statement that said in part: "Mayor Gillmor and her nearly million-dollar-a-year city manager are cherry-picking numbers entirely out of context and relying on fuzzy math to further erode a civic asset."

 He wrote Levi's Stadium, non-NFL  events have generated nearly $22 million in profits to the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, with $10.4 million going directly to the city’s general fund. Those events have generated an additional $9 million for the Stadium Authority and its discretionary fund, he said.

The 49ers said the concerts are the biggest non-NFL event moneymakers at the stadium, but that the city-imposed 10 p.m. curfew for concerts on weeknights  has hampered the team's ability to attract big name performers. 

"This," he wrote, "although the mayor and her army of taxpayer-funded political consultants have done everything to destroy the stadium event business."  

Brian Doyle, city attorney for Santa Clara, said the 49ers' claims are outrageous.

"To blame it on some kind of vendetta is ridiculous.  We don't have a vendetta. We're just trying to figure out how they're spending the public's money," Doyle said. 

In September, the city took action to try to remove the 49ers from managing the stadium for non-NFL events, but the team filed a lawsuit. Both sides said they do not have a timeline for when this matter will be resolved.