A win for concertgoers, hot music artists like Coldplay and U2 will, on occasion, be able to zip past the curfew at Levi Stadium at 10pm.
After years of denying the extension of the curfew, Santa Clara’s city council gave way on Tuesday night in a split vote. The curfew – from 10pm Sunday to Thursday and 11pm to Friday and Saturday – has been a stumbling block over the years between the city and the San Francisco 49ers that oversee the stadium.
The 49ers argued that the 10:00 p.m. stop cost the stadium millions in revenue, and that performers like Ed Sheeran had dropped out. City manager Deanna Santana said there was no evidence that the curfew was causing financial losses.
While the city manager has the power to extend the curfew under the original stadium agreement, the city council asked the former acting city manager in 2017 not to renew it – a policy that remains in place to this day.
Late Tuesday night, the council voted 4-3 to allow Santana to approve an extension of the weekday curfew until 11:00 pm for five non-NFL events per year, including pyrotechnics. Any renewal thereafter will be considered by the board.
Mayor Lisa Gillmore and councilors Katie Watanabe and Kevin Park voted against.
Curfews are generally enforced to reduce noise in surrounding areas. But several councilors said the same areas must withstand the constant hum of planes taking off and landing at Mineta San Jose International Airport.
Councilor Anthony Becker said that when he spoke to residents during the campaign, they rarely complained about the noise associated with the stadium. Instead, he said, they were worried about traffic and the possibility of lounging, littering, or other criminal activity that might occur after the concerts.
“The noise is worrying, but at the same time, when the continuous noise of the airports practically drowns out the sound of the concert, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.
But Watanabe, which has the stadium in its neighborhood, said she receives complaints from residents after every NFL game. And when Beyoncé passed the curfew, she said that the residents were upset for several days because people who returned from the game “Warriors” could not return home.
“There are many reasons the decisions were made, and it wasn’t because people wanted to ban music or anything like that,” she said. “This is because the promises were made to the residents, the voters of my area, my area.”
Gillmore wanted to make it a condition of the new curfew rule to prevent 49 residents from taking actions that could result in loss of money or become a financial burden on the city or taxpayers.
“They’re bad managers,” Gillmore said of the 49ers. “They can’t book lucrative stadium events, as evidenced by the fact that the events they book, especially non-NFL sporting events, are losing money dramatically.”
Non-NFL events lost $ 2.6 million in 2018-19, according to city documents.
In a statement, 49ers spokesman Rahul Chandhok welcomed the council’s vote to extend the curfew.
“This solution will help bring world-class entertainment to Santa Clara and will not only inspire those who love live music, but also generate the necessary income for the City of Santa Clara, local hotels and small businesses,” he said. “This is a deliberate policy and we hope to continue to overcome petty political disputes and dysfunctions under Mayor Gillmore and Manager Santana.”
The decision came at a time when the 49ers were struggling to fulfill their obligations under a naming rights agreement that allows the stadium to use the Levi’s name. The agreement requires them to host a minimum of 36 non-NFL events with over 25,000 participants during each three-year contract period.
While the pandemic until recently prevented the stadium from hosting large gatherings, Levi’s has only hosted five major events in its current contract period.