On a balmy spring night in Santa Clara, U2 brought their bombastic Joshua Tree tour to Levi’s Stadium. The event was designed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of a truly groundbreaking modern rock album but ended up a disaster, at least from a logistical standpoint.
All around the $1.3 billion stadium, which was completed in 2014, lines were unreasonably long and excruciatingly pokey, from the initial metal-detector choke point to the will-call queue and concessions. Even the last note struck a wrong chord—but not necessarily with U2 fans.
The band went on late and finished the show after 10pm, resulting in the operators of Levi's Stadium—effectively the San Francisco 49ers, whose subsidiary manages the stadium beyond football Sundays—being fined $750 for breaking the city of Santa Clara’s curfew. The citation was yet another example of the deteriorating situation between the club and Santa Clara’s elected officials.
Last week, Mayor Lisa Gillmor blasted the 49ers for letting Coldplay perform a Wednesday concert past 10pm, and she tells San Jose Inside that the city received far more than the reported six complaints.
“I don’t know where this number six came from,” Gillmor says. “There were way, way more than that. All of us, leading up to and after the event, have had dozens of complaints from the public. We’ve had calls, letters, emails, it was all over social media.”
Councilman Dominic Caserta, who has made a point of noting that Gillmor was “appointed” to her position as mayor rather than elected, is the only elected official in Santa Clara to support the 49ers’ request for curfew extensions. But Gillmor and the rest of her colleagues not only intend to fine the Niners, they also have designs to increase broken curfew fees in the future.
As a result, top acts like Ed Sheeran have pulled out of Levi’s gigs, raising the question: What kind of “world-class venue” goes to bed before the nightly news?
Jim Mercurio, vice president of stadium operations, informed the city that Levi’s no longer intends to book shows on weekdays, as it can’t force Live Nation performers to go on stage. The company has refused to sign an agreement to call its quits before 10pm on weekdays.
Meanwhile, Al Guido, president of the 49ers, warned the city in a letter that it is imperiling thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in potential revenue.
“This is a lesson the Stadium Authority Board should have already learned, as their ban led to the loss of global pop icon, Ed Sheeran’s concert,” Guido said. “I also wish to correct the false claims made by the mayor that the Stadium Authority did not know about cancellation. It’s a matter of public record that I notified the Authority prior to [the Sept. 21] Stadium Authority meeting that events would be lost due to Mayor Gillmor’s music ban.”
Santa Clara receives half of all non-NFL event revenue after expenses are paid, and it’s this money that started the whole feud between the city and club. The mayor has consistently accused the team of diverting funds from city coffers, as well as pushing security costs on to the city’s police department.
An audit by the Harvey Rose firm found that the city picked up the tab on costs that could have been sent the 49ers’ way, but past administrators—who have been forced out or resigned—had discretion to sign off on the expenses.
A couple of public meetings on the curfew issue were scheduled and abruptly canceled, due to what Gillmor called “false” pretenses by the prior city manager, Rajeev Batra.
“So, (Councilwoman) Teresa O’Neill, at our last stadium authority meeting, said that we wanted to do a deep-dive outreach opportunity in our community,” Gillmor says. “We want to really dig into this, to talk about all the impact and operations and management of the stadium. And the city manager was attempting to set up a public meeting on a Friday before the Labor Day weekend, but the City Council wasn’t even invited to the meeting, which is ridiculous. We canceled it. It was a false public meeting. We’re not going to do that. If we’re going to have a meeting, it’s going to be a 360-degree deep dive into the community … it’s going to be town hall, it’s going to be a real public discussion, and we’re going to engage the community with integrity.”
Thankfully, new City Manager Deanna Santana is here to save the day. This should all be worked out in short order.