Mercury News: Curfew is Good for San Jose But Not for Santa Clara (Opinion)

Mercury News: Curfew is Good for San Jose But Not for Santa Clara (Opinion)

By Robert Haugh

When does the Mercury News like a curfew? When it’s in San Jose.  When does the Mercury News hate a curfew? When it’s in Santa Clara.

Here’s what the paper — based in downtown San Jose — said about the airport curfew in a 2013 editorial.

San Jose’s downtown airport is a mixed blessing. It’s wonderfully convenient, but many people live near the flight path. The curfew balances business interests and livability, and that’s not going to change.

Well stated. Now how about Santa Clara and its stadium curfew that the 49ers want to lift? Here’s what the Merc’s editorial board wrote this week:

Yet the Santa Clara City Council seems willing to throw away that revenue for the sake of its ridiculous 10 p.m. curfew for weeknight concerts.

Wait … What? What happened to balancing business interests and livability?

For some odd reason, the Mercury News doesn’t understand, or purposely ignores, that the stadium curfew is a compromise. It’s 10 p.m. on weekdays when kids have to go to school and people have to go to work. It’s 11 p.m. on weekends. And the crowd at large concerts takes 1-2 hours to leave the stadium and neighboring lots after the curfew.

Odder even — they’ve written two editorials about Santa Clara this year, both in the last three days, both pushing for the 49ers request to lift the weekday curfew.  Since they write an average of about two editorials about Santa Clara each year, this makes us wonder: do the 49ers have the same hold over the paper that the team has over another local publication that pushes their agenda weekly and runs the team’s ads? Hope not.

So to help the Mercury News out, here’s a simple rewrite of their 2013 editorial that will keep people from calling them hypocrites:

San Jose’s downtown airport Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium is a mixed blessing. It’s wonderfully convenient, but many people live near the flight path stadium. The curfew balances business interests and livability, and that’s not going to change.

Stadium Audit

The editorial board also opines that another stadium audit is not needed. That’s another headscratcher. Here’s their argument: the relationship between the City and the team is crappy. Duh. So, the City should give the team what they want, just to improve the relationship. Huh?

This contradicts what the Mercury News editorial board wrote in 2014:

A healthy relationship can only exist if parties to an agreement keep their commitments. The 49ers bailing on the soccer fields and the council letting them do it is a bad sign — and the stadium isn’t even open yet.

So if the the 49ers did not keep their commitment on the soccer park … or the creek trail …  or the stadium community room … or by providing all financial documents to the City that they’re obligated to … or by trying to unilaterally lower their own rent … or by intentionally violating the weekday stadium curfew earlier this year for the U2 concert … How can the city have a healthy relationship with the team?

We’ve been tough on the Mercury News for their hypocrisy and contradictions. But we’ll give them kudos for this conclusion in the 2014 editorial:

It’s a matter of principle. But it’s also a test of whether the Santa Clara City Council is going to manage the 49ers or be managed by them.

We agree.

We also agree with the Civil Grand Jury who recommended the audit just over a year ago and suggested that the City go back to 2010 and review stadium construction expenditures. That would require an additional audit. And the City may find even more money for the general fund.

We strongly suggest the City Council listen to the 2014 Mercury News editorial board and not the 2017 version whose bodies may have been taken over by aliens. The City needs to manage the 49ers and not be managed by them. That’s what Santa Clarans want. That means protecting neighborhoods with the curfew and doing another audit.




  1. I agree, any compromise should benefit the residents of the Northside first! But wait, I just used the word compromise in response to a 49er issue. What was I thinking? We need to make sure that they understand they are the tenant, they do not get a seat at the table. They do not get a voice in how things should be run in our building.
    We made a huge mistake in putting ManCo in charge running the stadium. Lesson learned, hard expensive lesson, but a lesson we will not forget.
    So the question is who is going to manage who? Is Santa Clara going to be managed by the 49ers, or are we going to manage them?
    Is anyone surprised why San Francisco did nothing to stop them from leaving?
    We are just 3+ years into a contractual 40 year relationship. Oh joy…

  2. A couple years is an eternity in the news business especially when you have declining advertising revenue and a major source of ads calling and asking you to change your slant on editorials and stories. Just sayin …

  3. Boom! Required reading by the Mayor, City Council, City Manager, City Attorney and senior staff.
    Will they have the backbone? Or will they continue to appease the perpetrator.

    Love your idea for the AUDITING the construction of the stadium! Would also love to see a separate audit for NON-NFL events as well. Aren’t the 49ers refusing to share ALL of that information still? (still a lawsuit from the 49ers against the city is still in court)

    The 49ers have shown the mobster ways and so many in the city are duped by them.

    IF there is a compromise it should be up the Northside to be at the table and discuss the terms. Including how many times per year to have longer events, make sure that most of the money stays in the Northside and that it not only captures ALL of the costs but a HUGE bonus. We should be talking on the order of $2 million per event for five events for example.

    Then the price can all be wrapped up in the ticket prices ahead of time. The return on investment needs to be HUGE.

    If the 49ers can’t go with this, it will show their true colors. After all, the increased prices will all be passed onto the ticket holders! If there is anything that we have learned from the Yorks, it is that they do not want to spend a dime but are more than happy to make everyone else pay. Literally millions to tens of millions each year due to past City of Santa Clara/49ers agreements that are in place for decades! That and they don’t expect to file permits.

  4. You said it Robert. I hope we don’t let the Niners win just in principal. They’re spending a lot of money on this. I’m sure there’s other ways to utilize the Stadium to make a couple million dollars and more without having to remove the noise ordinance.

    The north side definitely need some help. Kathy Wantanabe seems to take their concerns on as she lives in the Northside. Let’s hope she can convince the Good Counsel Women to support her cause.The rest of the city needs to take note that this could happen to any of us.

  5. I like this statement from that 2013 editorial, “What’s in question is the kind of relationship the 49ers want to have with city residents and the city council, and the degree to which the council is willing to be rolled over by its celebrity partner.” I hope the council will lead with it’s head and not with it’s pockets tonight. Northside folks need leaders to protect them. We were here first. Don’t sell us out for “$24 in trinkets!”

  6. We need to manage them. There should be no debate. Anyone who votes to lift the curfew or give away crap to the 49ers should be recalled.

  7. Love the picture and comments. your re-write of their recommendation from a few years ago is great.

  8. Awesome smackdown, Robert. I don’t get the Merc anymore. It’s a thin paper and biased. San Jose is great everyone else is bad. Its the paper that’s bad.

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