Stadium Authority Recap – Measure J Audit Leads to Improved Policies

By Robert Haugh

Last night’s Stadium Authority meeting was fairly brief and pleasant. But we learned some interesting things thanks to a question from a resident during public testimony.

Mike O’Halloran asked whatever became of many of the findings of the Harvey Rose Measure J Stadium Audit, especially the ones that concluded the 49ers owe Santa Clara some money. Because of that question, we learned from City Attorney/Stadium Authority Attorney Brian Doyle that the City is in “collections” against the 49ers for at least one thing: $700,000 plus for parking revenue.

O’Halloran’s question also highlighted the fact that $500,000 has been budgeted for legal fees this year. We’re guessing it’s money the City will use to battle the 49ers in court on the team’s attempt to lower its own rent and the team’s refusal to turn over financial documents.

The closed session agenda had two lawsuits by the 49ers. And the Board took more than an hour to discuss them. So we’re connecting some dots to say that the legal fight isn’t over.

We learned the Measure J audit spurred many improvements in stadium governance and oversight.

Measure J Levi's Stadium Audit
The Harvey Rose Levi’s Stadium Measure J compliance audit brought about policy changes and has spurred implementation of previously non-existent policies.

Non-NFL Levi’s Stadium Events Marketing Plan

The Board held a study session on the proposed marketing plan for non-NFL events at Levi’s Stadium. ManCo, the 49ers stadium management company, never really produced one before. It’s good to see that Stadium Authority Staff is working with the 49ers to get more information. The relationship between the Authority and ManCo “continues to evolve” with a focus on collaboration — at least on the surface.

49ers VP of Stadium Operations Jim Mercurio didn’t mention the 2017 curfew debacles. He wanted to focus on more positive things how the new Stadium concessionaire Levy’s will be an asset in bringing in more events. It was a “well-needed” change according to Mercurio. He says Levy has already reached out to try and partner with Mission College and Santa Clara University.

Performance metrics will be established. This is great news. Not surprisingly, the stadium has become a soccer destination, having hosted 11 major soccer events in the last three years.

Board member Teresa O’Neill asked about the possibility of cricket as an attraction at the stadium. Mercurio didn’t really seem to think there was a market to sell tickets for cricket or rugby. Board chair Lisa Gillmor mentioned that according to quick research, Worldwide, soccer is the most popular sport – cricket is number two.

Proposed Stadium Authority Budget

The budget will come back in two weeks for adoption. There were a battery of questions with many minor changes that’ll be addressed.

Of interest, the budget includes over $6.2 million for Stadium improvements, including $630,000 for the build-out of the Community Room. It is part of nearly $8 million in the stadium capital budget.

Budget Policy

The Board unanimously adopted a budget policy that contains objectives, policy statements and development processes. It was created to improve budget governance, budget policy statements and the budget development process.

Governance Principles

Executive director Deanna Santana said there had been no prior policy. The policy provides guidelines to ensure proper leadership, increased oversight, greater transparency and accountability, effectiveness and integrity. The Board approved the principles unanimously.

The entire stadium board attended the meeting. No one was on a family vacation.



  1. MikeOH should be less concerned about the details of the city attorney’s budget (which should remain confidential for strategic reasons) and more concerned about the fact the 49ers haven’t providing any details in their payments to the city. Or documents that they owe the city.

    Maybe MikeOH is trying to help the 49ers get info.

    • I’m all for 49ers and ManCo providing better documentation to the City, and concerned about that, too. Transparency from both sides. It does appear the CM office & Manco are closing gaps. We need to be working together for positive results and City-wide ROI and cashflow. End the negativity.
      I don’t think the 49ers need info on money the City is paying for outside attorneys. They know the cases in which they’re involved and the opposing attorneys. It’s the citizens who are kept in the dark and should be concerned re City budget items.

  2. Actually my question re the $500k line item for Legal services is why is it so low. Compared to 2017-18; particularly, as you say, it appears the fight isn’t over.
    Last November, within a conveniently bunched up single agenda item were requests for spending over the original budget, totaling $875k. $700k of that was an increase for “on-going legal services” over the original 2017-18 budget. The Council had a ver heated discussion for a $100k re the Banner contract for public relations ”coaching”. In my 2 minute public comment I asked, “Well, what about the $700k?”. After public comments were closed, staff responded to all but that question. (As you know, you can’t ask again.)
    CA Doyle, outside public meetings, has said answeing that question would violate attorney-client privilege. He took that same line last night.
    I respect that there are internal discussions and strategies that might be withheld at least until after the cases are complete, and then perhaps just summarized. However, I believe a general breakdown of the budget and past spending is an appropriate disclosure to citizens of Santa Clara, who after all ultimately the “client”, footing the bill(s). I’m sure some of the 2017-18 cases are closed and had nothing to do with the 49ers, such as the inevitable damage claims by attendees to various stadium events, NFL and non-NFL.
    CA Doyle is very quick to declare that all outside legal service spending by his department is privileged information, including the $1M plus this fiscal year, and the $500k being requested in the 2018-19 budget draft; transparency be damned.

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