Is Levi’s Stadium a Billion Dollar Blunder and Will the 49ers Ask the City to Issue More Debt to Fix It? (Opinion)

By Robert Haugh

Last week, we reported that the 49ers wanted to give the City a basement room with no windows or bathrooms as a so-called “community room” which they promised in the stadium deal. On Tuesday, the Board said no way.

This made us wonder: are the 49ers politically tone deaf, or are they just bad at stadium design?

According to, Levi’s Stadium may have been designed for the Candlestick Park site and just plopped down in Santa Clara without major changes. And team co-owner John York (Jed’s dad) was partially responsible for the poor design.


The Ringer, a nationally acclaimed sports magazine, says Levi’s Stadium is a “billion dollar blunder” for the following reasons:

  • the field turf is bad … at least it was the first couple of seasons,
  • there’s no shade for lots of fans because of the north-south alignment,
  • traffic and parking are poorly managed,
  • there are FAA conflicts with the airport,
  • it’s really expensive for SBL holders and regular fans, and
  • stadium security has been inadequate to handle fan rowdiness and violence.

“Perhaps the biggest issue with the stadium, though, is one that can’t be quantified,” concludes the Ringer’s Rodger Sherman. People just don’t like the damn stadium … there’s no telling whether fans will ever feel at home in the billion-dollar blunder.”

Apparently, the team may agree. We’ve heard from a couple sources close to the 49ers that they know they need to fix some big problems, especially the shade issue. They say that 49ers’ COO Al Guido is in charge of making it happen. Guido is the point person for the team’s most controversial and not-so-smart decisions having to do with the stadium and the city.


The plan may be to build structures like the Miami Dolphins “shade canopy.” The Dolphin’s added shade and renovated their stadium for about $500 million.


So, the 49ers may come forward soon to ask the Stadium Authority to issue hundreds of millions of new tax-exempt debt to fix Levi’s Stadium. Wow. But that’s not likely to happen without a huge voter backlash. But if it does, let’s hope they add some money to include bathrooms and windows for the so-called community room.




  1. Hell No! We are not approving any bonds for anything … Period. We are not as stupid as you’d like us to be … a second time. And that stadium design disaster WAS designed for Hunters Point, no IFs about it … ask Santa Clara Plays Fair who tried to tell people the truth and no one wanted to listen to the truth and instead drank the 49ers’ kook-aid. It is, and will always be, the wrong thing in the wrong place … and now the same City Council wants to destroy our golf course and make the same mistake again. Why can’t the people of Santa Clara just believe their fellow citizens and stop bad projects when they are shown one? Those citizens really have nothing to gain like the political crooks that keep bringing all these financial disasters to Santa Clara. Start believing and trusting your fellow neighbors and stop believing and trusting the crooked politicians, like Mahan, Casserta, Kolstad, Gillmor, ONeil, Davis, Watanabe … or have you still not learned your lesson? What is it going to take? A plane falling on your head ! Oh wait. That could be happening soon too ….

  2. Dear City of Santa Clara Taxpayers … Note that the Central Park makeover (includes moving a money losing swim museum from Florida to Central Park & building a giant indoor swim structure that will supposedly include everything from toddler care to senior well being along with lots of sliced bread) is being pushed by the same interests/publicity group as the stadium. Check this 2015 MercNews laudatory piece on both the stadium and the swim center (google ishof for more info about the museum and ‘santa clara isc’ for more info about plans for new swim center):

    • The ISC is in need of a new pool even without the museum. Even cleaning out all the bandaids on the bottom of the pool will not help! The rebar is corroding and that is very visible. Just rebuild the pool and facilities on the current site seems best.

    • @Paul Nobody doubts that the pool needs to be redone. But it’s not necessary to build a giant foothill-view-and-sunlight-blocking monstrosity surrounded by oodles of cement in which to house it. Rebuild the existing pool. Or build a new pool in a new location – one that is no higher and no wider and with no other purpose than the existing pool.

  3. “hundreds of millions of dollars of new tax-exempt debt” NO WAY NO HOW. Thanks a lot 49ers and Councilman KEVIN MOORE who invited them into our city to rape and pillage.

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