Santa Clara Blocks 49ers From Management of Levi’s Stadium

(CN) – The acrimonious relationship between the San Francisco 49ers and its home city of Santa Clara reached new heights Tuesday night after the city voted to strip the National Football League team of its rights to manage the stadium in which it plays.

The unanimous votes came after lengthy meetings at Santa Clara City Hall and will take away the team’s ability to sign contracts and manage events outside its home games and NFL-related games.

Levi’s Stadium was built in 2012 and is owned by Santa Clara and leased to the 49ers. What began as a symbiotic business relationship meant to boost tax revenue for the city while giving the 49ers a state-of-the-art facility without the burdens of large-scale financial debt has since devolved into near constant rancor and a barrage of lawsuits.

The latest skirmish will likely end up in court as well.

The number of lawsuits filed by the team against the city was one of the things Santa Clara City Attorney Brian Doyle cited in explaining the rationale for stripping the team of its management rights. He also complained the city is in the dark on revenue collection and blamed the team for the poor financial performance of non-NFL events such as concerts.

The 49ers, on the other hand, have consistently laid blame for the poor financial performance of concerts, saying the city’s noise curfew, traffic restrictions and other meddling has degraded the experience for performers and the audience at the venue.

Last week, the 49ers released two letters from the management team for the Rolling Stones criticizing the experience at the stadium, saying the curfew and last-minute changes impinged upon the production value of the event.

“The impression I and many others in the industry have, is your facility is getting so restrictive and dysfunctional, it’s no longer worth the effort to play there due to the myriad and random rule changes,” wrote John Morrison, production manager for the Rolling Stones, in one of the letters.

The 49ers maintain that Tuesday’s vote was pure retaliation against the team for making the letters public.

“After City Manager [Deanna] Santana’s dysfunction with respect to stadium events was exposed, she has chosen to spiral even further,” the 49ers said in a statement Tuesday. “She is abdicating her fiduciary duty by destroying a city asset for petty, political vendettas.”

Santana said during Tuesday night’s meeting that Santa Clara was not intent on taking away the team’s ability to manage contracts or non-football events at the stadium.

“This is about compliance and accountability and transparency,” she said.

In its statement, the 49ers alluded to Santana “commencing yet another legal battle,” all but assuring the hostile fight between the two is once again headed for the courtroom.

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