If you thought plunking a 70,000-person football stadium into a residential neighborhood could be done without pissing anyone off, well, you haven't been to Santa Clara lately.
Neighbors of the 49ers' new digs were given a chance to sound off to both police and stadium officials Tuesday. The Merc was there to catalog the grilling of Santa Clara police Chief Michael Sellers and 49ers' vice president of stadium operations and security Jim Mercurio, along with two other unnamed officials.
Mercurio started off the community meeting, held at Don Callejon School about a mile and half from the stadium, on a conciliatory note. "I am never going to be able to please everyone in this room, much less the 70,000 people in the stadium," Mercurio told the group of peeved residents. "I may never be able to please you, and for that I am sorry."
But neighbors were in no mood for apologies as they ran through a list of complaints ranging from bike trails being closed during games to residents feeling like "hostages" in their homes due to the influx of thousands of cars into their neighborhoods on Sundays.
One resident who lives in a mobile home park near the stadium told officials that "someone may die" because the crowds could prevent medical personnel from accessing her neighborhood during an emergency. Beyond that, she told the panel that football fans have threatened her and other residents when they ask the 49er faithful to stay out of the mobile home park.
Officials diligently took notes as the roughly 100 neighbors complained to them of overly bright field lights (those aren't going anywhere), banner planes flying too low, and said that the signature foghorn played at Niner games was way too fog-horny.
The most poignant complaint, The Merc reported, came from a resident who lives on Gianera Street, right behind the stadium.
He told the panel that he was enjoying a day on his front lawn during the last home game, when a fan stumbled down his street, whipped it out and proceeded to piss on his lawn, right in front of his 7-year-old son.
When the concerned neighbor's wife confronted the unidentified urinator, she was told to "hose it down." When she threatened to call the police, the public pisser, according to the neighbor, "told me I could do whatever, and then he walked away."
Residents are hoping that officials do more than just "whatever" to clamp down on the unruliness that comes with an invading drunk army of football fans, especially given that they're not always known to be that peaceful. Case in point: Sunday's bathroom brawl that left one man in the hospital in serious condition and two men in handcuffs facing assault charges. Also, as the Business Times notes, there's been a lot of urinating on lawns.
Mercurio and Sellers promised the crowd a follow-up meeting after Tuesday's event ran a half-hour over its allotted time and told the group that they would be doing their best to address all of their concerns.
We'll be looking forward to when they figure out how to have thousands of (likely sauced) 49er fans make a calm and orderly exit from a football game. Good luck guys!