Concern grows over half empty stadium during San Francisco 49ers home game

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- The San Francisco 49ers said their home game against the Buccaneers was 100 percent sold out, but video taken at Levi's Stadium shows nearly half the seats were empty.

As fan enthusiasm wanes for the losing team, concern grows in Santa Clara, which counts on attendance as a major revenue source.

The dismal season is causing some of 49ers fans to stay away.

Empty seats aren't good for morale and they certainly alarm Santa Clara's mayor because of the money at stake.

The home town of Levi's Stadium gets about $8.9 million a season from a 10 percent surcharge on ticket sales.

It also collects a $5 parking fee for each vehicle plus 35 cents earmarked for senior and youth programs.

The tickets have already been sold, but if the team continues to lose so could Santa Clara. "How many will default on their tickets? We've seen a large amount that have defaulted already. How many will continue to default if the team is not managed properly and they're not being successful out on the field," Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor said.

We asked the Niners for some key financial figures Monday, but they declined saying they don't disclose them.

However, to give you one example, ABC7 found numbers for two games earlier this month.

Just over 12,000 vehicles parked at Levi's Stadium for the game against the Cowboys generated $60,000 for Santa Clara. The number dropped to 9,000 vehicles against the Cardinals and revenue fell about $14,000.

Santa Clara's acting city manager says he's not too concerned. "Yeah, there's lesser people, lesser purchases and the sales tax is less. Yes, percentage wise, we don't believe it's going to be a big impact," acting city manager Rajeev Batra said.

The Niners have asked Santa Clara for a rent break. A grand jury directed audit is underway to look at the team's revenue stream and what Santa Clara does with it.

A big concern for the majority of the city council is that the city's general fund might be touched. "We are crying wolf right now that general fund monies may be used for the stadium. We have to clear that up first, and that's what we're doing," Gillmor said.
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