By Robert Haugh
A lot of Santa Clarans shared a San Francisco Chronicle story that appeared online late Friday about the 49ers’ settlement offer to the City.
It wasn’t good news for 49ers.
Today, the Bay Area’s biggest and most respected newspaper printed the story on the front page. It was an exhaustive analysis by Chronicle reporters Ron Kroichick and Lance Williams.
Some Mission City residents couldn’t access the story behind a paywall. So below are some key sections.
But if you want to subscribe, here’s a link. Or you could buy the paper at 7-11 like I did.
49er Settlement Numbers are “Funny Money”
The total value of the San Francisco 49ers’ offer to the city of Santa Clara to settle multimillion-dollar lawsuits over the management of Levi’s Stadium is about 10 percent what the team has claimed, a Chronicle analysis shows.
The team said its package to the city is worth approximately $13 million, according to a review of city records, the team’s advertising and its public statements. The 49ers described this as their “best and final offer” ahead of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, when the matter may be decided. But the analysis shows the 49ers have offered only $1.35 million in cash. The rest of the offer is based on presumed benefits from settling the lawsuits and from other sources, including some funds the city already controls.
The settlement offer seems to be “funny money,” said Thomas Shanks, former executive director of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
“The public has no reason to trust these numbers, and neither does the council,” said Shanks, who is working on a study of the ethical aspects of the city’s relations with the team. “What they need to do is have objective and independent analysis” of the 49ers’ settlement proposal, he said. “Who trusts only one side of the story?”
49ers Violated Agreements and Laws, Now Control the City Council
Since 2019, Santa Clara has sought to replace the 49ers as managers of the $1.3 billion, publicly owned Levi’s Stadium, alleging the team diverted millions of dollars of game and concert revenue that should have been shared with taxpayers.
The city also accused 49ers executives of violating state contracting and conflict-of-interest laws. The team has denied wrongdoing and accused the city of illegally meddling in stadium affairs. It sued to keep the management contract, and the city countersued.
When the dispute began, the City Council was controlled by a majority ready to carefully scrutinize the city’s relationship with the 49ers. But in 2020, team CEO Jed York spent $2.9 million to help elect a more 49ers-friendly majority to the council. That new majority fired City Attorney Brian Doyle and then City Manager Deanna Santana, both 49ers critics, and now has turned its attention to the lawsuits.
Santa Clara Will Get a Small Amount and Give Up a Lot, Potentially
“When you dig into this, the only thing coming out of their pocket is the $1.35 million,” (Mayor Lisa) Gillmor said. “And it doesn’t even begin to talk about our lost revenues in the future, by giving them complete and utter control with no accountability to the Stadium Authority.”
The claim also assumes the city would lose the lawsuit. But city officials have been optimistic about the case, and if the city won, the 49ers could be saddled with the city’s legal costs.
That’s what happened in 2017, when the team sought a stadium rent reduction. The dispute went to arbitration, the 49ers lost, and the team was ordered to pay the city’s lawyers.