By Robert Haugh
There was an interesting ceremonial item last night. The City honored a bunch of lawyers. No kidding. But these were the lawyers that won a big decision for the City over the 49ers.
The City gave the Hanson Bridgett law firm special recognition for winning the $180 million arbitration recently that stopped the 49ers from reducing their own rent by $170 million. And instead increased the rent by $10 million over the next 40 years!
The City Council looked really happy. (Councilwoman Patty Mahan was absent). The lawyers looked really happy, too. They all should be. We learned last night that the 49ers will be paying the lawyers’ legal fees! City staff did not say how much. But the firm had a big legal team that worked for over two years on this. One local attorney told us that it’ll be in the millions. Ouch. The 49ers really blew this one and it’s costing them big bucks.
In other good news, two Santa Clara parks might get new names. The City Council referred two names to an Ad-Hoc Facility Naming and Honorary Recognition Committee.
the Central Park Annex park site might be renamed the “Bill Wilson, Jr. Park”
the San Tomas & Monroe Neighborhood Park might be renamed as the “Everett N. ‘Eddie’ Souza Park”
Both are good choices. We hope the Committee agrees.
On another issue, William Eserini filed a frivolous complaint against City Clerk candidate Hosam Haggag, Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe. Eserini says they shouldn’t have been at a campaign gathering in a city park where they had campaign signs. City Attorney Brian Doyle told the City Council that there was no violation. In fact, the gathering and use of political signs are a protected First Amendment right. As Watanabe pointed out, that’s why we have a free speech section with candidate booths at the Art &!Wine Festival.
Eserini asked that the Council agendize the item, but he himself didn’t show up. Really. But Haggag did. He talked about this as a campaign hit because Eserini is close to one of his opponents. He’s also close to Mahan who has personally antagonized Haggag in the past.
The Council did not “agendize” the item. According to Doyle’s legal analysis, there was no real issue.
We got a lot of numbers from Finance Director Angela Kraetsch. We learned that the stadium generates a lot of revenue from concerts, soccer games, weddings, and corporate events. 113 of those types of events brought in about $3.6 million last year. But just 4 larger events for high school and college football lost about the same amount of revenue. And those larger events create more problems in Northside neighborhoods. So, why have them?
According to the Stadium Manager and 49ers executive Jim Mercurio, it’s not just about the bottom line. Huh? We think it’s more about promises to the SBL owners which Mercurio hinted at. And it’s about the commitment to Levi’s for the naming rights to have a certain number of big events. Councilmember Teresa O’Neill pointed that out.
The City Council as the Stadium Authority Board has to approve the marketing plan for events. So look for a big debate in March. That’s when next year’s marketing plan comes back for a thumbs up — or thumbs down.
Mercurio also shared information about the College Football Championship Game. It’ll be played in Santa Clara in January 2019. He said that all Santa Clara costs will be reimbursed by the Bay Area Host Committee and the 49ers. The City of San Jose will be hosting parties but will be getting a bill, too. Ouch. If it’s a big bill, maybe San Jose can borrow money from Hanson Bridgett.