Santa Clara Mayor Warns 49ers Season Ticket Holders They Could Lose Their Seat Licenses

Some extraordinary decisions are being made at Levi’s Stadium, even if they aren’t coming from the struggling San Francisco 49ers’ coaches and players. In the aftermath of a violent fan beating following the season opener last month, Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews sent out an email to season ticket holders, who are required to purchase a Stadium Builder’s License (SBL) before they can buy actual season tickets. It’s just one of many cash grabs sports franchises have invented to extract every last dollar from fans after building a new stadium. As mayor and chair of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, Matthews warned that the city would “remove anyone from SBL Membership whose behavior endangers others,” even if the tickets were given or sold to “guests” who misbehave. The message came as a surprise not only to some season ticket holders, many of whom hedge their investments by selling off tickets to games they don’t want to or can’t attend, but also to some of Matthews’ colleagues on the council. He apparently did not consult his peers before the email blast, sent two hours before the second of two public meetings to review security and alcohol sales at Levi’s. The subject also did not get raised during that meeting, and a few people are miffed about being left out of the process. According to acting city spokesperson Jennifer Yamaguma, who consulted with City Attorney Richard E. Nosky, only one season ticket holder has had their SBL revoked for bad behavior, but it’s not clear if the you-are-your-brother’s-keeper policy complies with industry standards. “We’re still looking at that issue on how it would unfold for the end-user,” Yamaguma said. Matthews did not respond for comment, but considering how bad the Niners have looked to start the season, this may be the next fight for ill-tempered fans.

Send a tip to The Fly

The Fly is the valley’s longest running political column, written by Metro Silicon Valley staff, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at local politics. Fly accepts anonymous tips.


  1. If you are misbehaving, it’s a appropriate policy. If you sell your tickets on Stubhub or the like, how can you control who buys your tickets?

  2. I’m willing to sell all my ticket “rights” to Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews at cost. The 49ers suck and Levi Stadium is truly a disappointment. Maybe Santa Clara can offer a buy back policy for ticket holders who are tired of 49er player legal problems and continuing physical assaults of customers in Levi Stadium which has proven family unfriendly since it’s opening. No security, bad management, team incompetence, no parking or traffic control, and now idle threats from an elected city mayor. What a pity!

  3. The actions taken by Mayor Matthews appears to be a variation of San Jose Councilmembers Khamis and T. Nguyen’s Crime Free Multi-Housing Program (which I support and applaud).

    Good job Mayor Matthews!

    David S. Wall

    • And King Matthews is directly responsible for any and all poor decisions/actions by any city employee.

  4. Does anyone know if they revoke your SBL, do you get a pro-rated refund of it? Because if they do.. everyone needs to misbehave.

    • Unfortunately to the best of my knowledge you will receive zero compensation from the team for your SBL no matter how you forfeit it. There are other avenues out there to sell your SBL, or to purchase SBLs at current market value.

  5. Illegal behavior at Levi’s needs to be punished to the full extent of the law. However, under what authority does Mayor Matthews, or even the City of Santa Clara, purport to revoke SBLs? Are the SBLs issued by the Niners or by the City Of Santa Clara? If they are not issued by the City, the City clearly has no right to revoke them, unless the contract between the City and the Niners gave the City that right.

    • The SBLs were issued by the Stadium Authority (an agency of the City of Santa Clara – the board of the Stadium Authority consists identically of the Santa Clara City Council, plus the City Manager) so that SBL purchasers wouldn’t have to pay any sales tax. It’s a trick that teams use to avoid paying sales taxes – have a municipality sell the SBLs (or PSLs) rather than the team. So Santa Clara City and County and the State of CA lots out on lots of sales tax dollars.

      Matthews had absolutely no right to use his position as mayor to send a letter to season ticket holders without the approval of the rest of the City Council and a vote regarding that letter. This should have been an item on a City Council agenda so that people could provide public comment. This behavior is consistent with Matthews prior behavior in doing the bidding of the team owners and CEO. He does not represent the people of Santa Clara. He represents his campaign donors, including the 49ers and big developers.

      And another article on SJI states that Matthews wants to run for County Supervisor. Blech. There’s a reason why no one from the City of Santa Clara Council has ever been elected to a higher office.

      The standard SBL contract should be a public document, and every SBL owner should have a copy of their contract. Someone should look at the contract and post the details on SJI.

      • Thanks for the 4-1-1 Sweatpea. The SBL for a club level seat between the 45 yard lines was $80,000/seat. That’s a tax of $7,000/seat not collected. WOW!

      • If, The SBLs were issued by the Stadium Authority (an agency of the City of Santa Clara – the board of the Stadium Authority consists identically of the Santa Clara City Council, plus the City Manager), then how does the the City of Santa Clara and/or the SF 49ers have the right to require purchasing the season tickets as part of the SBL agreement? We should have that right to opt out of buying the season tickets.. just saying!

  6. THE Standard SBL Contract contains a clause which allows the issuing authority to revoke a seat license if fan behavior violates a published code of conduct. SBL Holders agreed to this requirement when they purchased their seat license.

  7. Please tell me this… I own 3 SBL’s and do not wish to purchase the handcuffed season tickets (which I was told I had to purchase as contracted by the SBL agreement) is it possible that the SBL does not require purchasing the season tickets?

    The poor management of the team, the players conduct off the field, so forth and so on, has brought me to the make a decision not to buy my season tickets, but continue to pay my yearly sbl payment.

    Overall, It’s a losing proposition, we must sell our game tickets through NFL Ticket Exchange (Ticketmaster) to avoid having our sbl’s voided, due to a bad fan buying them.

    However, NFL Ticket Exchange will not let you list you game tickets less than face value, where as on stubhub and the like will allow listing below face value (the lowest that I have listed mine for was $6.25).

    WE should not be required to buy our season tickets if we elect not to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *