SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) – The mayor of Santa Clara is again calling out the San Francisco 49ers, saying the team has taken advantage of the city.
Court battles and constant bickering have come to define the ever-acrimonious relationship between the city of Santa Clara and the 49ers.
Now, there’s a money fight hanging over the start of a new football season.
Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor said, “Santa Clara was ill-prepared to manage this. And the 49ers, I believe, took advantage of that.”
And even the release of a long-awaited audit report examining the stadium’s finances seems unlikely to resolve the issues dividing them.
Gillmor said, “I think the audit is going to be illuminating in terms of how this has been managed, how things have been billed, the lack of clarity, the lack of transparency.”
Gillmor says auditors found nearly $500,000 in taxpayer money may have been used improperly to pay for police and firefighters at Levi’s Stadium events, money she believes the team must pay back to the city.
“There’s not to be any public money spent on operating the stadium. That was the crux of Measure J. And unfortunately, we’ve violated Measure J,” Gillmor said.
The 49ers blasted draft report of the audit saying it was full of “erroneous information,” “half truths” and “outright misrepresentations.”
The team says if Santa Clara underbilled them for public safety costs, the error was the city’s, not theirs.
The team did want to talk on camera today they fear the public feud has the potential to hurt their business and the city’s bottom line.
But Mayor Gillmor says the legal and financial issues have to be hammered out to protect the city’s and the citizens’ investment in a $1.3 billion stadium.
Gillmor said, “We actually work for the public. We want to make sure it’s successful. Most of the time, our goals are aligned. But sometimes, they’re not going to be aligned.”
The mayor says the final audit report should be out towards the end of August.
There is also a court battle over financial documents that the city says the 49ers failed to turn over and another court battle over how much the 49ers have to pay the city in rent.