49ers Try to Lower Their Own Stadium Rent — Again, But City Successfully Forces Team to Pay Up

By Robert Haugh

The 49ers tried to lower their own rent by $2.7 million because they said two preseason games were canceled.

But the games were canceled by the NFL, not the City, County or the state of California.

So the City Council acted as the Stadium Authority (SA) Board to challenge the team. The SA voted unanimously on September 8 to file for arbitration to collect the 49ers’ unpaid facility rent. 

It worked. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, the SA received a $5,502,333 payment for facility rent.  It covers overdue rent for September and the rent due for October.

Here’s how the City describes what happened in a press release:

“This action came after 49ers Chief Financial Officer Scott Sabatino notified the Stadium Authority of his intent to reduce their rent payments by 20%. Only after receiving a Notice of Default and the Board’s action did the 49ers pay their rent in full one week later.”

We’ve seen this movie before.

The 49ers tried to lower their own stadium rent by a lot in 2018. Back then, Sabatino said the team had the right to reduce their own rent by $170 million over 40 years. 

The City said no. So the team went to arbitration. The 49ers lost big.  

In August 2018, the arbitrator ruled that the rent should be increased by $10 million. Wow. That’s a $180 million swing in the City’s favor.

It’s a good thing for Santa Clara taxpayers that the City is not backing down when the 49ers try to reduce their own rent.

It’s also a good thing Sabatino is not coaching the team on the field.


  1. Why am I not surprised…. I also hear they are suing the City again. In case you don’t have a scorecard, this will be the 7th Lawsuit in just 6 years. As of today they have yet to win one. 0-6 for now, hopefully working on 0-7.
    I wonder if there is any other Santa Clara based business that has sued the City this many times over any period of time, let alone only 6 years.
    I wish someone would add up how many times the really big business of Santa Clara (Some with over 60+ years of doing business in our City) have actually sued our City. You may have heard of some of these little start ups. Intel, Sun, Applied Materials, Agilent, Nvidia, Hitachi, Service Now, National Semiconductor, and Palo Alto Networks just to name a few. My bet is adding them all up, over all these years and you still wouldn’t get to 7 Lawsuits in total. What a shame, so much time is being wasted by this one company, a company we have bent over backwards to help.
    The way they have learned to say thank you is with a Lawsuit.
    34 more years, oh joy.

    In November let’s remember, If ANYTHING involves the City and the 49ers are for it, I am against it.

    Santa Clara Resident
    Burt Field

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