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San Francisco 49ers, city of Santa Clara reach new public safety agreement after ongoing disputes over costs

The cost of public safety for NFL games increased due to a 2018 public safety audit and a 2020 officer pay increase to double time for security details

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San Francisco helmet on the sideline against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Rick Osentoski/AP

By Joanna Putman

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Security costs for the San Francisco 49ers’ NFL stadium have more than doubled since its opening in 2014, sparking prolonged disputes between the 49ers team and the City of Santa Clara, the Bay Area News Group reported.

The contention reached a peak in 2019 when the 49ers sued the city over the escalating expenses, according to the report. In late May, a new agreement was reached where the 49ers will cover a larger portion of the costs.

Since its inauguration, the price of public safety for NFL games at Levi’s Stadium has surged from $2.45 million in 2014 to $5.7 million for the 2022-23 season, according to the report. Contributing factors include increased officer staffing following a 2018 safety audit and a 2021 agreement that pays officers overtime at double rates for NFL events.

Jeremy Schmidt, president of the Santa Clara Police Officers’ Association, defended the overtime pay, citing the department’s understaffing and the dangers faced by officers during games.

“Working the games exposes the officers to excess danger from large crowds, decreased personal rest and increases time away from family,” Schmidt said.

Originally, the city’s agreement with the 49ers required the team to pay up to $170,000 per game for public safety, with any excess costs covered by the Stadium Authority through discretionary funds or rent credits, according to the report. However, this threshold has consistently fallen short. For instance, public safety costs for the first game in 2014 exceeded the threshold by nearly $30,000.

The new agreement stipulates that the 49ers will now pay up to $360,000 per game for public safety. In the first nine home games of the 2023-24 season, costs ranged from $433,660 to $570,314 per game, according to the report. Additionally, a $4 per ticket surcharge for non-NFL events has been introduced to help offset remaining costs.