Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor is likely feeling both vindicated and frustrated today, after her suspicion, reported on in May by the Monterey Herald, that taxpayer dollars are being used to cover some operating expenses at the two-year-old Levi's Stadium, was borne out by a recently completed audit. CBS 5 reports that while the exact scale of the problem has yet to be determined, that any taxpayer money at all is covering stadium costs is in direct violation of voter-approved Measure J and could leave stadium officials on the hook for a huge bill.
"Are we talking tens of thousands of dollars?" Gillmor is quoted by the channel as asking the auditors. "Are we talking millions?”
“I don’t have a number for you right now, but we do think it’s an issue worth exploring,” auditor Fred Brousseau responded.
As the Herald explained, at least some staffing costs for police and firefighters at the stadium — costs that should have been billed to the Niners — have actually been paid out of the city's general fund. Meaning, the taxpaying citizens of Santa Clara have been covering the cost.
This is of particular interest in light of the Santa Clara police union's recent flirting with the idea of not providing private security for 49ers games due to the ongoing national anthem protest by Colin Kaepernick (they eventually backed down on that threat). That they may have been on the public's payroll the entire time casts perhaps casts their threatened boycott in a new light.
So, how did this happen? While CBS 5 says that some of it likely had to do with accounting errors, the Herald reports that Gillmor alleged city employees had been instructed not to correctly report hours in order to "make the city look good and make the stadium look successful."
The 49ers pay $170,000 in security costs to the city for each game according to organization's lease (that amount is supposed to grow every year), with any overage getting billed to the team by the city. In 2014, the per-game overage costs averaged $61,626.