NFL-sponsored games and day-to-day events have become entangled in the lengthy legal spat between the San Francisco 49ers and the city of Santa Clara.
The Santa Clara City Council decided Tuesday to remove the 49ers from all management responsibilities of Levi’s Stadium — including for the team’s own games. City Attorney Brian Doyle announced that the six-member council unanimously agreed to terminate the stadium management agreement with the team.
City spokeswoman Lenka Wright said in a statement Wednesday that the decision stemmed from the team’s “apparent mismanagement of the publicly-owned facility and potential self-dealing.” The city did not provide any documentation of the allegations and had no further comment.
The decision was made during a closed session Tuesday on behalf of the Stadium Authority, which is made up of the councilmembers, including Mayor Lisa Gillmor, and oversees the 49ers’ management of the stadium.
The move is the latest in a long list of legal actions, including a lawsuit the 49ers filed after the city in September stripped the team of its ability to sign contracts for non-NFL events. In the lawsuit, the team challenges the idea that the city can unilaterally change the management agreement.
49ers spokesman Rahul Chandhok said in a statement Wednesday that the council’s decision is retaliation for the 49ers’ involvement in efforts to defeat Measure C, which would shrink Santa Clara’s number of voting districts from six to three.
“We should all be troubled that this vote comes clearly as an act of retaliation after it became public that the 49ers would join civil rights leaders to defeat Measure C,” Chandhok said. “The 49ers Management Company will continue to manage Levi’s Stadium and attract the most celebrated events in the world to the Bay Area. The City’s latest announcement is just another step in a self-destructive process they began years ago as part of a petty political vendetta. All of those efforts failed, just as this latest attempt will also fail.”
City Clerk Hosam Haggag on Tuesday questioned the transparency of the team’s involvement in local politics and said he is working with the California Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate.
It is unclear what the city’s move will mean for the future of stadium operations. The 49ers will continue to operate events at the stadium — including the upcoming BTS and Justin Bieber concerts — until the case proceeds through Santa Clara County Superior Court. A date for the hearing has not been set.