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Santa Clara Threatens To Take Control Of Levi's Stadium From 49ers

SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) -- A dispute between the San Francisco 49ers and the city of Santa Clara over Levi's Stadium operating costs is getting uglier.

The team is accused by Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor of spending taxpayer money on maintaining and operating Levi's Stadium, a clear violation of voter-approved Measure J.

On Tuesday night, the battle off the field escalated. During Tuesday's Santa Clara City Council meeting, the mayor called on the 49ers to hand over financial documents auditors need to finish their job.


Gillmor threatened that otherwise, city leaders would take the drastic step of taking management of the facility over from the Niners.

"If you, the 49ers would just give us the information covered under the agreement, we wouldn't have any issues," Gillmor said during the meeting.

The mayor told KPIX 5 she would not back down. "We're holding them accountable," she said.

The 49ers also appear not to be backing down. In a statement, Roger Hacker, the team's Director of Corporate Communications said the 49ers organization "has been subject to a campaign of misinformation and headline-grabbing accusations, most recently in regard to the management of Levi's Stadium."

Hacker denied the team has breached any agreements and claimed the stadium has returned millions of dollars in revenue to the city. He also warned Gillmor's public campaign against the 49ers' management of the stadium could end up being financially harmful to the city if event planners believe there is instability in the facility's management.

Hacker's statement also disputed whether Gillmor has the authority to hand over management of the stadium to the city. "Contrary to the Mayor's recent statements to the press, she has no right to terminate the 49ers as manager of Levi's Stadium. Her unjustified threat to remove the 49ers has unnecessarily created a fear of job loss in the many employees who have worked so hard on behalf of the Stadium Authority to make Levi's Stadium so successful in such a short time."

The statement said the team has provided requested documents or invited the city's consultants to view confidential documents at 49ers offices.

49ers spokesman Bob Lange said the team invited auditors to get the documents they needed almost a month ago. "And we have yet to hear a response from the auditors to set up that meeting," said Lange.

The 49ers have offered to share the information privately, but they fear making it public will hurt their business and the city's bottom line.

"These documents, which are highly confidential, we've invited the auditors to come to our facility to view," said Lange. "If this information were to become part of the public domain, promoters and event planners would have the upper hand in negotiations, because they would know the true budget of these events."

When asked to respond to that statement, Gillmor said, "That's a very small part of it. We don't need to know how many bottles of water Beyonce drinks. What we want to know is what are the expenses and revenues that should be flowing to the city of Santa Clara. So that's a diversionary tactic. It means nothing."

The mayor says the public owns Levi's Stadium and nothing should be confidential.

"It shouldn't have gotten to the point where it's constantly being debated in the media," argued Lange.

KPIX 5 asked the mayor what the point of the 49ers keeping financial documents from the city might be, if they were in fact doing so.

Gillmor said she believes the reason is because the team has asked to lower their rent by $5 million for four decades and doesn't want to show the city how much money they're actually making.

She is giving 49ers officials one week to hand over the documents to auditors or she says she will move forward with taking away management control from the team.

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