By Burt Field
Last week, we learned a lot about the 49ers and the Councilmembers they elected.
The 49ers announced that they would be turning Levi’s Stadium into a COVID-19 vaccination site. That’s actually a good thing for our community.
But the team didn’t invite anyone from the City to the press conference as Robert Haugh reported. That’s a problem since they don’t own the stadium. We, the residents of Santa Clara, do.
The 49ers are tenants in the building. And they aren’t particularly good ones. Here are just a few examples:
They’ve intentionally violated the stadium curfew — the one they agreed to when they opened the stadium.
- They’ve broken State wage laws.
- They’ve violated public contracting laws.
- They’ve been caught violating conflict of interest regulations.
- They tried to lower their own rent — but failed.
So with an abysmal track record like this, any normal tenant would be concerned about the relationship with the landlord.
But as last week’s snub shows the 49ers aren’t concerned about what Santa Clara thinks. Maybe it’s because they feel they own the City Council now.
Last year, they spent $3 million to elect three councilmembers: Anthony Becker, Suds Jain, and Kevin Park. These three candidates had unsuccessfully run for mayor or city council multiple times before. Is it just a coincidence that 49ers owner Jed York shatters records for spending in city council races and Becker, Jain, and Park win for the first time after multiple failed attempts?
Last week we also saw how intimidated City Council members are by the 49ers.
The City was trying to do something simple — update the conflict of interest code. But the 49ers don’t want some of their executives to report their conflicts.
It was telling to anyone who listened to last Tuesday’s City Council meeting that the team has a stranglehold on the majority of Councilmembers.
When Councilmember Kathy Watanabe moved to pass the regulation, there was complete silence. No other Councilmember would second the motion. They seemed more intimidated by the 49ers than they were serious about their duty to Santa Clarans.
Luckily, Mayor Lisa Gillmor seconded the motion to force a vote. Then the City Council had no choice and the issue passed unanimously, 6-0. (Vice Mayor Raj Chahal abstained, appearing afraid to take a position against 49ers team executives who he meets with regularly).
Last week was an important one. It showed Santa Clarans that the 49ers think they own Levi’s Stadium and the majority of the City Council, too.
Editor’s Note: Burt Field is the President of Stand Up for Santa Clara. It started in March 2015, when the San Francisco 49ers and the majority of the Santa Clara City Council took action to sell the Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park to the NFL Team. It’s a grassroots organization of volunteers.