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49ers sue Santa Clara over Levi’s Stadium decision

The San Francisco 49ers NFL American football franchise has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the City of Santa Clara’s move to terminate an agreement that grants the franchise management rights of non-NFL events held at Levi’s Stadium.

Last week, the city said that the 49ers had “grossly mismanaged their procurement authority, violated state laws, and refused to produce the Stadium Authority’s own contracts and documents to assess the extent of violations”.

Should the city win and the agreement be terminated, the 49ers would no longer be able to manage concerts and other non-NFL events held at the 68,500-seat venue, which opened in 2014.

The team said last week that it would continue to manage non-NFL events at the stadium, stating that the city’s announcement was “just another step in a self-destructive process they began years ago as part of a petty political vendetta”.

The 49ers have now filed a lawsuit against the city’s attempt to end the management agreement. Team spokesman Rahul Chandhok told The Mercury News that the lawsuit was necessary due to the city’s “complete misunderstanding” of the agreement.

Chandhok added: “By attempting to end the management agreement under false and unlawful pretext thus creating misinformation in the marketplace, the city threatens to take away these economic opportunities.

“Already, declining revenue is a consequence of retaliatory restrictions like the Mayor’s Music Ban that has artists bypassing the Bay Area and leaving local businesses, vendors, and residents to suffer.”

The lawsuit asks a judge to invalidate Santa Clara’s notice to terminate the agreement. It also denies that the 49ers committed fraud or went against the terms of the agreement.

In response to the lawsuit, Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor tweeted: “We terminated the 49ers non-NFL events agreement because we discovered fraud and wage theft. They’ve also mismanaged a public facility. Net profits plunge from around $5m (£4m/€4.5m) to zero in two years and the city’s rules, like the weekday curfew, haven’t changed one bit since they opened the stadium in 2014.”

Acts that have performed at Levi’s Stadium since it opened include the Rolling Stones, Beyoncé and Coldplay. The city-owned stadium is leased to the 49ers.

Image: Jim Bahn