Yes, Oakland has lots of stadium problems and some teams are leaving our town. And, yes, there’s lots of blame to go around between the Raiders, A’s, and Golden State Warriors as well as the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, The Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the Oakland City Council. While the Oakland A’s work to build a new stadium at either the Oakland Coliseum or Howard Terminal, the overall sports economic development situation in Oakland is poor.
But look at how things got so screwed up by the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara. This week, after exhaustive outreach by the City of Santa Clara with nearby residents and city-wide residents, the data demonstrates how far the once great Niners Football Organization has fallen — both on the field and off the field. Not to offend 49ers Owner Jed York, who’s a friend to Zennie62Media, but this must be said. As difficult as the Oakland sports picture is, take a look across SF Bay at how the 49ers screwed up the simplest of relationship with the City of Santa Clara, neighbors and fans.
Here I present the results of Santa Clara’s research, community outreach, and polling on the impacts of the 49ers, Levi’s Stadium (shown in the Zennie62 on YouTube flyover vlog above), and the NFL Franchise’s arrogant and endangered relationship with Santa Clara’s residents. (Sorry Jed, but that’s how many folks feel down there.)
Santa Clara-sponsored research shows the nearer Santa Clara residents live to Levi’s Stadium, the more likely they are to have significant issues with parking, traffic and disorderly game and concert attendees—and they get sympathy and understanding from residents who are farther away.
Despite the pervasive media coverage of the weeknight curfew at Levi’s Stadium restricting events from going beyond 10 p.m., residents did not cite the curfew among their chief concerns. Residents are generally supportive of having a curfew, but more than half of those surveyed are open to limited exceptions to the policy, the survey shows.
The research, which combined a telephone survey, focus groups, digital outreach and community meetings, indicates that Santa Clara residents are happy overall with the City and its government, but also express frustrations at regional traffic and the high cost of living, which ranked first and second as the major issues facing the City.
Santa Clara Mayor, Lisa M. Gillmor said “The results of this engagement effort validated the concerns that we have heard from the community over the past several years, since Levi’s Stadium opened.” Mayor Gilmore continued:“Based upon the baseline results, the Council/Board must implement solutions for our residents, particularly for those that live near the stadium, as quality of life is of the utmost importance. We remain dedicated to protecting our neighborhoods and engaging with our community, while still realizing the economic benefit of the stadium.”
While Santa Clara residents are dissatisfied with some of the more disruptive impacts of Levi’s Stadium, general stadium-related issues are not foremost relative to other regional issues.
However, Santa Clara residents did indicate a lack of trust between the community and the 49ers, citing a lack of financial transparency and failure to follow through on commitments that were made in early agreements. As expected, stadium-related issues have a higher intensity among the near-neighbor population to the stadium.
Residents identified key community concerns as those related to:
– Parking and traffic around the stadium;
– Disruptive‖ behavior after games including loitering, littering and other security issues;
– Communication between residents and the Stadium, to a lesser extent the City;
– Noise issues – residents are satisfied with the existing curfew system at the stadium, but are open to changes and additional community engagement on that issue.
In an initial citywide survey of 600 respondents to identify key issues, residents and near neighbors alike indicated strong levels of concern over traffic and parking, with 69 percent of residents (and 78 percent of near neighbors) indicating stadium traffic was a major issue, while 50 percent of residents (and 62 percent of near neighbors) highlighted parking in neighborhoods near the stadium as a problem. Local businesses surveyed also indicated that traffic and parking were their top concerns – at 55 percent and 35 percent respectively. Both residential groups also noted disruptive behavior after games – namely littering, drinking/drugs, and loitering – in their top four concerns, after traffic.
During the qualitative phases of research, approximately 400 residents were engaged through focus groups, community interviews, community meetings and an online questionnaire. As with the initial poll, residents living near the stadium expressed higher levels of concern than those who didn’t, though the citywide residents expressed support for those living near the stadium.
Through this dialogue, it became clear that both groups felt a lack of trust had developed between the community and ManCo (the 49ers stadium management company) and to a lesser extent, the City, which they attributed to issues with financial transparency and follow-through. Those who view the stadium positively expressed appreciation for the economic and entertainment benefits the stadium has brought, though they also indicated they felt it was not utilized to its fullest extent.
Finally, a policy survey of 400 residents garnered similar results to the initial phone survey, with 48% of respondents stating traffic congestion and parking when asked an open ended question about stadium’s biggest negative. In surprising contrast, only 14% of respondents answered stadium-related noise to the same question.
When residents were asked to rate issues impacting them, traffic and parking are seen as the most important, with four in 10 saying it’s extremely important. Disruptive behavior around neighborhoods ranked third in issues. Six in 10 say it is important to address noise during and after events, with only a quarter rating it as ―extremely important.
When asked whether they support the curfew, 50 percent of residents support it, 25 percent are opposed and 25 percent are neutral. About half of all residents think the 10 p.m. stadium curfew is ―about right, while one third feel it is too restrictive. Just one in 10 feel it is not restrictive enough. Additionally, a majority of residents (54 percent) support the general idea of limited exceptions to the curfew, with 56 percent supporting three to four exceptions per year and 60 percent supporting two to three exceptions per summer.
While specific findings and policy recommendations for Board consideration and further deliberation will be reviewed in-depth at the Special Stadium Board Meeting, consultants have identified some of the following recommendations:
• Increase availability, access, and provide financial incentives for carpooling and transiting;
• Improve game day traffic communications and parking strategy;
• Expand and enhance post-game security forces, including neighborhood patrols;
• Provide more options to avoid post-game littering and impacts to neighbors;
• For near neighbors impacted by noise, additional noise control measures;
• For ManCo (the 49ers stadium management company), repair trust and improve communication through a variety of means: establish a community hotline, provide neighbor benefits, and liaise with a citizen’s advisory committee.
Work to survey local residents began in December 2017 when the City of Santa Clara Stadium Authority Board directed the Lew Edwards Group (LEG) to conduct community research and collaborate on engagement pertaining to Levi’s Stadium. LEG, utilizing respected research and polling company EMC Research, and in collaboration with Public Dialogue Consortium (PDC), coordinated quantitative and qualitative community engagement programs. That process finished May 2018, and the full report and recommendations were presented to the City Council/Stadium Authority Board on June 21, 2018.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media