Fore! 49ers Line Up Golf Course Fairways for Stadium Parking

But no tailgating--the golf course is built on an old landfill. Barbecues and escaping landfill gases are an explosive combination.

Construction is nearing completion on the new Levis Stadium in Santa Clara. (Photo: Bea Karnes, Patch)
Construction is nearing completion on the new Levis Stadium in Santa Clara. (Photo: Bea Karnes, Patch)

The Santa Clara City Council Tuesday voted to permit the San Francisco 49ers to use a golf course as a parking lot for Levi's Stadium after a team executive said he had secured more than 21,000 spaces nearby for sold-out games and events.

The council voted unanimously to give the 49ers a special permit to use 16 fairways of the 18-hole Santa Clara Golf and Tennis Club golf course next to the stadium site to park up to 5,000 cars on game and major event days until March 2016.

The golf course, managed by the American Golf Corp., would be used for cars in the same way that the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena has used the Brookside Golf Course there for parking since the 1970s, assistant city manager Alan Kurotori said.

The 49ers would pay for improvements to the Santa Clara golf course, such as building driveways to the course, widening golf cart paths to serve as roads for cars and restoring the grass fairways for golfers after fans drive off of them, Kurotori said.

The golf course's tee boxes and greens would be roped off and, since part of the course is built over landfill - which might emit underground gases - fans parking on the course for tailgate parties would not be permitted to use flamed devices such as bar-be-ques, city officials said.

Jim Mercurio, vice president of stadium operations for the 49ers, told the City Council that he had agreements with property owners to provide 21,069 spaces during sold-out games and events, not counting those from the golf course.

The team needed to secure a minimum of 19,000 spaces for sold-out events within a 20-minute walking distance of the planned 68,500-seat stadium, among a pool of more than 40,000 potential spaces nearby, in order to meet with zoning approval, according to city officials.

Mercurio said that in addition to the 19,000 spaces for spectators of sold-out NFL games and large stadium events, he needed to provide another 2,000 for employees of the stadium, Mercurio said. "We have met our goal," Mercurio said, which was at least 21,000 spaces. "This is a monumental moment."

Mercurio's presentation at the meeting was met with relief from city officials amid concerns that the 49ers would not be able to find enough parking spaces for sold-out games and events. "This is phenomenal news," Mayor Jamie Matthews said, who later asked the audience to applaud Mercurio.

Council member Lisa Gillmor echoed the mayor, saying that "the 49ers organization has taken a lot of hits in the news media" in the past for appearing not to be able to secure sufficient parking. "You did everything you said you would do," Gillmor said.

The stadium's planned launch is Aug. 2, a professional soccer match pitting the San Jose Earthquakes against the Seattle Sounders, which is not likely to be a sell-out, city officials said.

Among the property owners agreeing to house cars for events at Levi's Stadium were Mission College, nearly a mile south of the stadium, with 2,250 spaces and a closer lot on Tasman Drive with 2,226 spaces, according to Mercurio.

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