Santa Clara Youth Soccer players and their parents are upset about the team’s efforts to turn soccer fields near Levi’s Stadium and 49ers HQ into VIP parking lots. Hundreds of local youth soccer supporters attended a Santa Clara City Council meeting last week, and a group of four players posted a song on April 20 — complete with the hashtag #kidsvs49ers — stating their case.
Let me tell ya a story about a man named Jed
He had deep pockets and this is what he said
Build the 9ers new home and we’ll share this space
Then I changed my mind and now you’re displaced
Cuz “I need parking” … VIP that is !!
Limousines, luxury box, garlic fries
Playing lots of soccer has made us very strong
In our hearts and minds, we know that this is wrong
Hey Mayor Matthews we need a better plan
Do something quick or we’ll be Seahawks fans
Here’s some background on the 49ers’ proposal, via Ann Killion’s story on April 22:
For a decade, kids have played soccer on pristine city-owned fields adjacent to the 49ers’ training facility. When the 49ers campaigned to build their stadium directly across from the fields, Jed York told the community that the team understood the fields’ importance and wanted to be a good neighbor. In 2012, as the need for stadium parking became apparent, York wrote a letter indicating that the 49ers would fund replacement fields if the current fields were annexed by the club.
The 49ers, worth an estimated $1.6 billion, might be backsliding on that promise. They put forth a proposal to lease the soccer fields long-term, with an up-front payment of $15 million.
The public speakers pointed out that the proposed price wasn’t fair-market value. And that the city could be taxed twice: Taxpayer money originally built the soccer facility and Santa Clara would face new expenses to build another, even if offset by the lease revenue.
“The proposal was going to circumvent what we would consider the normal process,” Robertson said. “We need a legitimate alternative location.”
Said 49ers spokesman Bob Lange: “We look forward to any suggestions that come from the public process. We will continue to explore other avenues with our community partners to expand our support of youth sports.”
And here’s an update from Matier and Ross from April 24:
The parents took special pains to note that the November election campaigns of Matthews and City Councilmen Dominic Caserta and Patrick Kolstad were handsomely financed by 49ers executives. That played into a larger feeling among critics that the council is overly friendly to developers in general.
Put it all together, and it added up to a council chambers filled beyond capacity Tuesday night with aggrieved young soccer players and their parents. It was a news event made to order for TV, which of course turned out in force.
“I think the words they heard the loudest were ‘referendum’ and ‘recall’ if they passed the deal,” said Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill.
The quarterback sack came at the end of public testimony when Gillmor and O’Neill refused to go into closed session to consider the deal and instead demanded a full public vetting. That effectively killed any chance it had of passing.
It doesn’t look like the 49ers will get their VIP parking lots anytime soon, at least where those soccer fields currently sit. However, it’s a prime location and 11 acres is enough space — not just for parking lots for the high rollers, but other development opportunities like restaurants or stores. So the 49ers probably won’t lose interest in this land anytime soon.