By Robert Haugh
Some people thought there were no problems at the Mexico-Iceland soccer game on Friday.
Police Chief Mike Sellers and his staff, Fire Chief Bill Kelly and 49ers Vice President Jim Mercurio said there was nothing out of the ordinary at the game.
Except there was.
Sellers was not at the stadium Friday night. So special events Captain Steven Burris was in charge of public safety. Burris called in lot of additional security from other law enforcement agencies to help manage fights at the game. It was the first time a “Code 20” (officer needs help) was used at Levi’s Stadium.
Approximately 60 additional officers responded from San Jose, Sunnyvale, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office and the California Highway Patrol.
So some Stadium Authority Board Members weren’t buying the story that everything was under control.
Authority Member Debi Davis asked a lot of serious questions about officer safety. She disclosed that her husband is a police officer. She said her sources said that parts of the game were an “uncontrollable situation of chaos.”
Board vice chair Kathy Watanabe asked pointed questions about the sale of alcohol in the parking lot and at the stadium. She raised issues allowing people to drink for five hours before the game.
Watanabe put Sellers on the spot when she asked him if he still believes that the decision to stop alcohol sales was the responsibility of the 49ers/ManCo. Sellers shifted his position from the past and said that the decision is made in “partnership.” But Watanabe pinned him down to finally say that he has the authority to restrict alcohol sales if public safety is a concern.
Watanabe, the only Northside resident on the Board, said “I’m tired of the residents being impacted. It’s time we take care of the neighborhoods.”
Authority Chair Lisa Gillmor said that “the stadium isn’t being managed the way it’s supposed to be managed” and any public safety decisions that leave Santa Clara neighborhoods unprotected is “unacceptable.”
Many Northside residents also voiced their displeasure about event management. One speaker said a business owner near the stadium caught 17 people urinating on their property on camera. Other residents say there’s inconsistencies in the amount patrol for non-NFL events and NFL events.
The strongest statement from a public speaker came from Tino Silva who said this issue isn’t about the police department but about a management company (49ers/ManCo) that wants to save money. He challenged them to “step up and do your job” or the Authority Board will “find a company that will.” Silva speaks at 1:45:30. It’s worth watching because he also spanks Authority Member Dominic Caserta for calling comments by Watanabe racist. No kidding.
The Board unanimously directed the executive director to come back with legal options to allow them to:
- Decide which non-NFL events should be held
- Establish a structure for how to restrict alcohol sales
- Look into controlling alcohol consumption outside of the stadium before events
- Establish strategic planning for consistency
- Establish new best practices
- Evaluate deployment of public safety and city staff at the stadium and compare to other stadiums
- Protect Northside neighborhoods, including setting up a game-day permit parking system
Stadium Authority Budget
The stadium authority budget was adopted unanimously.
We are finally seeing better documentation from the 49ers. This is long overdue. The Authority Board is making progress.
Gillmor said it’s great that the “fifth year (of stadium reporting) we’ll get right.” But she said that there’s still four years of missing budget documents.
The budget report revealed that 14 items were implemented due to recommendations from the Harvey Rose Measure J compliance audit. Wow. That’s a lot for one audit.
Board member Patty Mahan was absent last night.