Milestones – Council Questions “Big Game” Costs (OPINION)

By Miles H. Barber, Publisher

In what would be called in the NFL, un-sportsman like conduct, our Santa Clara City Council has so far declined to partner with the 49ers Management Company. The City of Santa Clara has initially said “No” to any financial participation in the National College Football Championship Game.

With 15 cities bidding for the platinum bowl game of college football, Santa Clara, via Levi Stadium and the 49ers Management Company, was given the nod back in 2015.

It is customary for bid winning cities to share in hosting costs for these events. Atlanta, the host city for this event last year, allocated $12 million for hosting expenses.

Even though our City has been aware of this booked event for years, the City is short of money and has not prepared to contribute any funds.

Most cities consider the big game expense a marketing investment. The exposure opportunity is immense, since the event has one of the highest ratings and largest audiences for network television in the country. It provides one of those rare opportunities to showcase your city to the nation at a relatively low cost.

Consider that advertisers pay millions for a minute of TV advertising during these broadcasts, the idea of a City receiving national prominence for an entire three-hour game has wide appeal. However, this seems to be a case of Goliath wanting the show and David having no wallet.

The College Championship Game is a sought-after event for several reasons. At the top of the list is money. Tickets are at a premium and with nearly 70,000 seats in high demand, the gate is enormous. The venue media exposure for the hosting stadium and City has a value that can only be estimated.

Where the host city benefits directly is from ancillary services such as sales tax and Hotel Transient Occupancy Tax. It is estimated that attending football fans will open their check books while visiting Silicon Valley and generate $175 to $200 million of economic impact. Our own Convention and Visitors Bureau has already blocked 7,200 hotel rooms for the event.

This will be good for Santa Clara hotels, bars, restaurants, retail shops and transportation. In addition, it will  be a great tax generator for our City to pocket millions of dollars in tax revenue.

However, with the ongoing rift between the City and the 49ers Management Company, financial cooperation or participation looks bleak at best.

Due to our lack of supporting infrastructure, several days of pre-game events and festivities leading up to the big game will be hosted by San Jose.

The 49ers’ Management tried to work with the City and consider themselves a good partner in bringing high profile events, revenue and recognition to Santa Clara.

Santa Clara’s lack of participation will not be a factor in paying for the big game as the 49ers are proposing to underwrite the event even if the City does not show up as a partner.

Wouldn’t it be in our best interest to know how much additional revenue accrues to the City because of this Big Game event through ticket tax, parking fees, related sales and T.O.T taxes?

Maybe even more important, where will that revenue be credited and spent?

Hopefully not on more legal expenses of pending or proposed City lawsuits.