49ers set to reap the benefits of ‘shocking and unexpected’ stadium ruling

The San Francisco 49ers are set to receive a $36m (£27.5m/€31.7m) tax refund and see future payments slashed by half following a ruling on the status of Levi’s Stadium that Santa Clara County claims will have “significant financial consequences” for the local region.

The NFL American football team scored the win at the Santa Clara County Assessment Appeals Board. The ruling relates to the property tax the team has to pay on the $1.3bn Levi’s Stadium, which opened in July 2014.

The Appeals Board ruled that from now on, the 49ers will be liable for payments of $6m per year instead of $12m. As the dispute dates back several years, the county must also refund the team $30.8m by June, with a further $5.2m to follow later this year.

The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper reports that Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone stated the decision is “shocking and unexpected” and will impact significantly on financial matters in the county in which Levi’s Stadium is based.

Stone said the Santa Clara Unified School District will have to refund just over $13m to the team. The county will account for $5.3m, while $3.14m will come from West Valley Community College, $2.86m from the City of Santa Clara, and $1.38m from the County Office of Education.

Stone added: “A 50 per cent reduction for a single appeal is highly out of the ordinary. In my opinion, the (assessment appeals board) reached the wrong conclusion. We vigorously defended the enrolled assess value and strongly disagree with the decision.”

While Levi’s Stadium is publicly owned by the City of Santa Clara, it is operated by Stadco, a joint venture between the city and the 49ers. The Chronicle said the 49ers pay an annual assessment based on the level of financial benefit the team gains from the stadium.

The dispute had centred on the extent that the 49ers privately benefit from events held at the stadium outside of the NFL season.

Rahul Chandhok, vice-president of public affairs and strategic communications for the 49ers, said: “We accept the decision of the Assessment Appeals Board, and will cooperate fully with the Assessor’s Office. Our focus, as always, will be on ensuring that Levi’s Stadium continues to be a premier sports and entertainment venue for the region.”

Image: Travis Wise