SANTA CLARA — Though Levi’s Stadium raked in $8. 8 million in non-NFL event revenue last year, no money from that tranche will go to the city’s general fund due to ongoing legal disputes with the San Francisco 49ers. The team manages the city-owned stadium for non-NFL events, and roughly half of those profits typically go back into the stadium authority — the body that oversee Levi’s — while the rest are supposed to flow to the city’s general fund to cover services like libraries, public safety and parks.
But that didn’t happen in the 2022-23 fiscal year that ended March 31, 2023, according to a report reviewed by the Santa Clara City Council last week. During that time period, the stadium hosted seven ticketed non-NFL events — six concerts that included Coldplay and Elton John and one soccer match — and 69 large-scale non-ticketed special events, such as corporate parties. When looking at the budget earlier this year, Finance Director Kenn Lee told the council at last week’s meeting that the city’s legal team opted to put Santa Clara’s half of the profits into a legal contingency fund “because of potential liabilities that may occur depending on the outcome” of arbitration with the 49ers.
The two parties, which have a lengthy history of litigation, are currently in a dispute over public safety costs. Last fiscal year, the stadium racked up $5. 7 million in public safety costs for 49ers games, with $4.
6 million coming from direct city costs and $1. 1 million from outside agencies. The current dispute between the city and the NFL team is over the cap on annual public safety costs.
Because the actual costs of security have gone over that cap, there’s been a years long debate over who should pay for any overages for football games. Mayor Lisa Gillmor said she was “concerned” that the stadium has historically struggled to bring in money for the city. “We’re benefiting in a small way with some sales tax, some small ground rent,” she said.
“In terms of what we were supposed to get, we’re getting some crumbs. Luckily our hotels are going to benefit, some of our small businesses are going to benefit, but we were supposed to get a huge benefit from the stadium. ” Last fiscal year, the city transferred $650,000 out of the stadium’s discretionary fund into the general fund.
The bucket of money comes from half of the $4 ticket surcharge for non-NFL events. In a statement, 49ers’ Chief Financial Officer Peter Wilhelm disputed the mayor’s claim, stating that the recent financial report was “proof of how well-run and successful Levi’s Stadium has been. ” “Comments about performance rent overlook the fact that Santa Clara charges its own stadium some of the highest public safety costs of any venue in the country, and that these costs must be covered before distributing performance rent to the city,” Wilhelm said.
“We’re eager to resolve that imbalance and presented a solution more than a year ago. In the meantime, the city directly benefits from millions of dollars in hotel surcharges, as well as the boost to the local economy when visitors attend events at Levi’s Stadium. ” At the meeting, Councilmember Anthony Becker said he believed the city and the stadium were “heading in the right direction” because of its ability to pay down debts.
“I think that was a very common sense approach that you guys did was to make sure you pay off your debts so that Santa Clarans will not be stuck on the line owing all that money,” he said. Last year, the city was able to pay off about $35 million of its outstanding debt on the stadium, leaving $245. 2 million to still pay off.
The stadium debt hit a peak in March 2014 at $653. 4 million. .