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.
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.
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.
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.