Jumbo San Francisco 49er's helmet outside Levi's Stadium Toyota Gate
Santa Clara has settled its last remaining lawsuit with the San Francisco 49ers. Photo by B. Sakura Cannestra.

Santa Clara and the San Francisco 49ers have settled their last outstanding lawsuit after years of conflict, taking a step toward reconciliation.

The settlement will generate $20 million for Santa Clara over the next two years through changes to the city’s contracts with the 49ers, including $2.8 million in the next fiscal year, according to a city news release. The release said the settlement reduces the amount the Stadium Authority owes to the 49ers from $22.3 million to $14.8 million. This comes almost two months after the 49ers’ “best and final offer” in this dispute and increases the amount of revenue the city will collect from Levi’s Stadium.

The city’s Stadium Authority, a governing body made up of members of the Santa Clara City Council, approved the settlement Monday in closed session by 5-2, with Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilmember Kathy Watanabe opposing.

“We believe the Settlement Agreement addresses key concerns and provides a fair and advantageous resolution for the Stadium Authority and Santa Clara residents,” Jovan D. Grogan, Santa Clara city manager and executive director of the stadium authority, said in a statement. “By settling this dispute and restructuring terms in the original agreements that helped bring the 49ers to Santa Clara, we were able to achieve both immediate and long-term financial benefits for the City of Santa Clara.”

Gillmor called the settlement a “loan-shark type deal” in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Anyone saying this Settlement Agreement is good for Santa Clarans is deceiving the public,” Gillmor wrote. “The money the team claims the City gets requires repayment.”

The existing agreement has the 49ers paying the city for public safety at NFL games, and the stadium authority reimburses part of those costs. The news release also said the authority’s reimbursement obligations were reduced by $108,000 per game and a $4 ticket surcharge will be added to non-NFL events to further help the reimbursements.

“The approval of this settlement fast tracks $20 million to the city general fund, and puts an end to all remaining litigation between the 49ers and the stadium authority,” Jihad Beauchman, general counsel and executive vice president of the 49ers, told San José Spotlight. “We look forward to beginning this new phase of collaboration and partnership with the city.”

The two sides have been locked in a series of contentious battles, including over the team’s rent and curfews for concerts at the $1.3 billion stadium. The most prominent fight began in 2019 after the city council voted to remove the team as manager of non-NFL events. The 49ers sued, saying their longstanding contract with the city gave them the right to manage the stadium’s day-to-day operations, including during non-NFL events.

That was a separate lawsuit with the 49ers settled in August 2022 that included $2 million from the team for disputed public safety costs and $8 million savings in “future litigation costs” over the next four years. Historically, disputes have raged over stadium operations, late night noise curfews and financial management.

Councilmember Anthony Becker said this settlement is “a touchdown and a win,” as it will free up more revenue for the city, both through the changes in the city’s contracts with the 49ers and through no longer being in a lawsuit. He added that opponents of the settlement, like Gillmor and Watanabe, may say this settlement is not beneficial, but the financial impacts of continually being in lawsuits has already hurt the city.

“I am proud of this settlement and Santa Clarans should be proud to,” Becker told San José Spotlight. “We can now move on.”

Check here to read the full settlement.

Contact B. Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] or @SakuCannestra on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

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