The San Francisco 49ers find themselves in the middle of a continuing squabble with the Santa Clara Stadium Authority. Members of the stadium authority, who are also on the city council, have registered complaints about how Levi’s Stadium is using public money. They requested an audit, and that has resulted in conflict over what documents and information the 49ers have provided to the auditors.
Late last year, the city stated they were sending a letter to the 49ers stadium management company claiming they were in breach of the stadium management agreement. They claimed various documents requested by the auditors were not provided. The 49ers have countered that saying such documents are either publicly available, or were available to be viewed at the team’s facility. The 49ers talked about how there are certain competitive advantages in event bidding and keeping some information private is important. In those instances, the 49ers have said they invited the auditors to view them at the 49ers facility instead of submitting them directly to the city, which would make them a matter of public record.
The 49ers sent a letter to Santa Clara recently, pointing out some of these issues, and claiming the stadium authority has not responded to various invitations. Most notably, it references the 49ers management company sending requests for estoppel certificates. When there is a concern about a potential breach that could lead to default, Section 14.1.1 of the Stadium Management Agreement (PDF) states that if the 49ers management company submits a request for a signed certificate verifying the company is in breach, the city must respond within 15 days. According to the letter, Santa Clara did not respond within 15 days.
The 49ers stadium management company (effectively “the 49ers”) has since filed this lawsuit against the stadium authority. The lawsuits asks for declaratory relief and attorneys’ fees. The suit points to the stadium authority claiming breach, and also the stadium authority failing to sign and return the estoppel certificates. The lawsuit asks for “a judicial declaration of the parties’ rights and obligations under the Stadium Management Agreement” and “a declaration of the parties’ rights and obligations under the Stadium Management Agreement with respect to the delivery of [the] certificates.”
We discussed the lawsuit last night, and I have since acquired a copy of it and the letter the 49ers sent to the stadium authority. Give them a read below.