The San Francisco 49ers took a rent arbitration legal loss to their Levi’s Stadium landlord, the City of Santa Clara, and turned it into a self-inflicted wound: an emotional and embarrassing disaster for the team.
The catastrophe started when the San Francisco 49ers challenged their rent and sought to cut $180 million off their 40 year lease at Levi’s Stadium. The City of Santa Clara battled back and after two years of legal arbitration the City won the $180 million, plus an additional $262,000 annually, for a total of $190 million over the term of the lease.
Here is the simple story from this blogger’s perspective: the City wins, the San Francisco 49ers lose.
But instead of making a public statement to the effect that the ‘49ers will work with the City and the move forward together,’ team management made an emotional and angry response (according to the Santa Clara News Online), sending out a statement from San Francisco 49ers Vice President of Public Affairs Rahul Chandhok that attacked the City and its Mayor Lisa Gillmor that read in part, “It’s exactly this deceptive approach, her lack of transparency, and fuzzy math that make Mayor Gillmor distrustful.” (Which is an interesting twist on what Lisa Gillmor said about the 49ers contributing to a climate of mistrust when she became Mayor of Santa Clara in 2016.)
What fuzzy math? The 49ers lost its Levi’s Stadium rent arbitration, plain and simple.
Then, much like President Donald Trump, Chandhok doubled-down on his ill-conceived remark, saying, “Mayor Lisa Gillmor will always put her interests before those of everyday Santa Clarans. The stadium lease is a matter of public record. Attempting to give it new life in the media is a distraction tactic to avoid questions of her use of public funds for spin doctor Sam Singer.”
Fascinating (but unsuccessful) diversion tactic: Attack the public relations consultant for the city, Sam Singer. Surely, Singer must be responsible for the team losing the legal arbitration. Unfortunately for Mr. Chandhok, Singer had nothing to with the 49ers loss except issuing the City’s press releases.
The 49ers use to have the moniker “winning with class.” Right now, the Niners hold the title of “losing with crassness.”
The 49ers have about 40 years on their lease with Santa Clara. The team needs to start realizing that the city is their partner, not their enemy. In this blogger’s view, it’s time for the Niners to be aware that their approach can be seen as trying to bully women leaders (the city council is dominated by women and has a woman as its city manager) and start respecting both the city and in particular its female leadership, particularly in the wake of recent history in Santa Clara politics.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media