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Here is a link to my Thursday column which explains how the 49ers let down youth soccer players in Santa Clara. The full column runs below:

The San Francisco 49ers are a good football team, but they are a bad neighbor.

Just ask the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League. Just ask the kids. The 49ers dumped the kids and then dumped on them.

You need to visualize this. As you drive over to Levi’s Stadium where the 49ers will play their games next season, you come to a corner, a lovely corner abutting the 49ers’ headquarters and new stadium. On this corner is the Youth Soccer Park, a state-of-the-art beauty with three fields and plenty of parking. Kids have been playing there for years.

The soccer league was a big booster for the Niners’ new stadium. The Niners courted the soccer league. The Niners were nice to the soccer league. At the time, it seemed the Niners were being a good neighbor. The Niners pledged to create alternate soccer fields because traffic on 49ers’ game days would make it awkward for soccer kids to play their games.

The Niners have reneged on their commitment for alternate fields. I’ll get back to that in a moment. I’ll say this for now. It sure seems the 49ers needed votes of soccer parents for their stadium initiative to go through, but they didn’t really care about being good neighbors once they got their stadium.

As part of the good-neighbor policy, Jed York himself wrote a letter in 2012 to Matt Heintz, president of the 1,500-member league, saying the 49ers understood there would be thousands of fans driving and parking and milling near the soccer fields on Sundays when the soccer league plays lots of games. The Niners would be happy to fund replacement fields.

Here is Jed in 2012: “To demonstrate our commitment to our community’s young soccer players and their families we are proposing that the 49ers underwrite several regulation-sized additional soccer fields in Santa Clara. These fields would be dedicated and maintained for the use of the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League during NFL game days.”

That’s a wonderful letter, full of the right kind of feeling. Reading it you just want to pinch Jed’s young cheeks and give him an “atta boy.” Jed signed off the letter with this admirable sentiment: “We have been part of the Santa Clara community for 22 years and we are committed to remaining a good neighbor to the soccer community.”

Atta boy.

The story should have ended there with everyone content.

It didn’t end there. A few weeks ago — and out of the blue — the 49ers told the soccer league they have no intention of providing replacement fields. It was quite a shock to the soccer league considering the soccer season looms.

“None of us knew talks broke off,” Heintz, the league president, told me over the phone on Wednesday. “We asked the 49ers and they said talks broke off two years ago.”

What a surprise.

Heintz wrote to the 49ers asking what’s up. Only this time Jed didn’t write back to him. An underling, the Executive Vice President of Development, wrote the kiss-off letter.

This vice president said the project was abandoned two years ago. “Although we made good progress on this concept, it was abandoned in 2012 after evaluating the viability of a long-term agreement.”

What a surprise.

Oh, the 49ers offered one possible concession. Get this. “We are still open to this concept,” the vice president wrote to Heintz, “if you are interested in pursuing this in connection with a stadium parking arrangement.”

Parking arrangement? What does that mean?

It means the Niners might fund alternate fields for the children if the children give up 140 parking spaces at their soccer field on 49ers’ Sundays on that lovely corner in Santa Clara right near the new stadium.

Heintz wrote back to the vice president: “This feels like we are being held to ransom, in which we are to agree to cede 140 parking stalls to the 49ers in exchange for your organization to revisit being open to the concept of alternate game day soccer fields.”

Can you say “bullying?”

On Tuesday night, the Santa Clara City Council voted to come up with $2 million to identify replacement fields.

It will cost more to build the fields.

This is $2 million of taxpayer money, money the 49ers should put up. They have the money. They made the promise.

“We need to hold the 49ers to their agreement to provide replacement fields,” Heintz told me. “They’re saying, ‘It was just a proposal that got shot down. We’re done. We think you can play on game days. There’s enough access. Be happy there. You have no problem.’

“They’re not even thinking about us. They said they can provide us a different access road. There’s still going to be all this game-day traffic. You’ve got soccer teams coming from everywhere — Salinas, Santa Rosa. Hopefully the referees can get to the game.”

Where does the soccer league stand now?

“I can’t believe the city will be able to do anything in four months,” Heintz said. “We’ll probably have to rent fields and move as many games as possible off those game days. We don’t know how that’s going to happen. There are no other fields at that level of quality. We’d get complaints from other teams. We have one other field that’s quality. We’ll try to rent at Santa Clara University. In the city of Santa Clara there’s pretty much nothing we can use.”

Does Heintz feel used?

“Kind of. We figured all along they’d buy the soccer park and build us a new complex. We assumed it would happen. We knew four years ago they would want it. Just buy the thing and build us something somewhere else. They could have done it four years ago. We’re supposed to be partners with them but lots of crappy things are going on.”

At Tuesday night’s council meeting Heintz said this: “If Jed York were here right now, I would say to him, ‘Look around at all these faces and decide if you want to hide behind your lawyers and turn your back on all these kids, or will you stand up like a man and do what is right?’”

Your move, Jed.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn.pressdemocrat.com.

 

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Comments

34 Comments

  1. Streetglide

    Soccer is a terrible passtime and should never be taught to children. It is an activity for cowards, cheaters and whiners. It might be okay for little girls but not for boys. too many bad habits are picked up there like falling down and pretending you are hurt, cheating when the ref isin’t looking, and worst of all, thinking that sitting throught eight-hour soccer games is actually enjoyable (they only feel like eight hours). For more:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/164778-the-top-ten-reasons-to-hate-soccer#articles/164778-the-top-ten-reasons-to-hate-soccer/page/4

    March 27th, 2014 6:28 am

  2. Streetglide

    I really need stornger glasses. My proofreading sks…

    March 27th, 2014 6:29 am

  3. J Canseco

    Despicable. Jed York is a loser. The 49ers are a loser organization.

    March 27th, 2014 6:45 am

  4. Frank in Minnesota

    Perfectly said…and will he respond personally or have one his lawyers respond? Thought they were bigger than this….

    March 27th, 2014 6:50 am

  5. J Canseco

    Streetglide, get a life.

    March 27th, 2014 8:49 am

  6. Dan

    While an owner may value wins, their real concern is money.

    March 27th, 2014 9:33 am

  7. GoldDigger

    If you read Jed York’s letter it never clearly states that the 49ers are going to build another soccer field. It uses language such as “we are proposing” and “these fields would be” but nothing is actually promised. It is unfortunate if the intent all along was to mislead the soccer league into thinking it would receive additional fields on the 49ers’ dime in order to gain the soccer league’s support for the stadium. It’s sad to say but if no contract was signed then it’s all promises of goodwill. Even if a contract was signed the lawyers could still try to find some loophole to weasel their way out of it. I really hope the 49ers find a way to make this right.

    March 27th, 2014 9:56 am

  8. Mark M

    They need to fix this.

    Streetglide, you are a moron of epic proportions

    March 27th, 2014 10:04 am

  9. Streetglide

    Hey Canseco, I have a life and fortunately it doesn’t include kickball… and you stunk as an outfielder.

    March 27th, 2014 10:44 am

  10. Dr. Feelgood

    Gentlemen, Ladies:
    Who hasn’t uttered some ill-conceived notion at one time or another?
    Soccer offers great benefits to children at low risk to their health, low cost to the programs (and players), and high return on the lessons of teamwork and vigorous aerobic effort.
    My take is that the author reveals a deep-rooted misogyny, stating that soccer is “ok for little girls”.
    The author might wish to re-think his/her evaluation and/or might consider getting some professional counseling.

    March 27th, 2014 10:57 am

  11. Streetglide

    Of course it went completely over some of your heads. My post was meant tongue in cheek. I think it is reprehensible that the Niners bailed on the youth outfit.

    Having said that, I guess I should have figured it would spleen-vent some of the folks here. I’ll never understand the pee-cee look-there’s-someone-doing/saying-something-not-vetted crowd. Oh the horror…

    As far as misogyny, you might want to check with the hundreds of now grown women I taught at an all-woman’s university at one point in my life who still write me and think I must have done a pretty great job in the classroom.

    March 27th, 2014 12:19 pm

  12. Neal

    Street glide you must be the dumbest guy on the planet to say that about soccer. It’s the “worlds” game clown played by billions of people for centuries!
    Get off your red neck porch and open your eyes outside your American hick town bud

    March 27th, 2014 12:46 pm

  13. Neal

    Suggestion to the Soccer people, have no games when the Niner’s are at home. That is not even 8 Sundays a year, as the Niner play on Mondays and Thursday nights too. Life goes on, if this is the worst thing that can happen, I would say you are darn lucky.

    March 27th, 2014 12:47 pm

  14. J Canseco

    My hero.

    March 27th, 2014 1:07 pm

  15. Marco

    There goes Lowell trying to make the 49ers look bad again.

    Let’s stop progress and send the 49ers back to the Stick!

    March 27th, 2014 1:36 pm

  16. CohnZohn

    Neal and everybody else, go easy on Streetglide. He’s one of my favorites.

    March 27th, 2014 1:41 pm

  17. CohnZohn

    Marco whoever you are, I would say the Niners made themselves look bad.

    March 27th, 2014 1:42 pm

  18. Neal

    Lowell,

    There are two Neal’s on this site, he is the one that bashed Street Glide, I can take soccer either way and my suggestion was to work with the Niner’s schedule.

    March 27th, 2014 2:32 pm

  19. Neal

    He is also on Grant’s site. Don’t understand why a web-site would allow two exact names to be on it. I will probably need to change my name to something else, or check out, Street Glide was dead on with the Panda column.

    March 27th, 2014 2:36 pm

  20. htwaits

    I don’t pretend to know what has gone on in Santa Clara on this “Soccer” issue, but neither to you Lowell. For instance, the $30M monkey wrench that the Santa Clara School district threw into the pot may be related to the current 49er position.

    As for the soccer itself, you missed a big clue when the impact on visiting teams were brought up. These are “club” teams that are competitively selected and unofficially represent a city. They are not the community soccer programs where all kids who want to play, get to play. Scouts for college soccer programs come to “club” games looking for talent.

    If you ever attended a AYSO (youth soccer where everyone gets to play) game, you would know that there are almost no fields as pristine as the ones described by the people you talked to in Santa Clara.

    I don’t know who is putting the squeeze on who, and your one sided article didn’t help.

    March 27th, 2014 2:54 pm

  21. CohnZohn

    Sorry, Neal.

    March 27th, 2014 4:16 pm

  22. Marco

    Lowell – As you know better than anyone, the 49ers do a lot for the community and have for many years. They deserve the benefit of the doubt on this one. I’m having a hard time believing Jed is out to screw the soccer kids.

    Doesn’t make sense at any level. There’s got to be more to this story.

    March 27th, 2014 5:00 pm

  23. Dennis

    For all the charitable work the 49er and all pro sports organizations do within the community (the bay area) this story doesn’t pass the smell test for me. My experience with these things is that there are two side to every story. So my suggestion is you come back when you have the 49ers side, then you might have a real story – assuming it is true to begin with.

    March 27th, 2014 5:21 pm

  24. Neal

    No worries Lowell, you had no idea, I used to do alot of bashing, mostly on Grant’s, and mostly to Grant but have stopped, not getting carried away like I used to, since my Dad died in Dec, look at things differently. Stupid to get carried away.

    March 27th, 2014 6:16 pm

  25. Stan

    The 49ers figure why feed the cow when they already got the milk? Too obvious now. They like dirty politicians promised the world to needy kid everywhere…and after the stadium was (and two men gave their lives for that) built? Jed decided he needed more money to impress his flock of chicks no doubt. No payoff in impressing 12 year olds. They don’t even buy tickets.
    Kids,single mom cheerleaders working three jobs…yeah,Jed and Mark learned the value of being cheapskate tightwads from Mom and Dad— just as taught. In fact, they love it.

    March 27th, 2014 6:38 pm

  26. chris

    Streetglide must be a Damon Bruce fan…….seems to me this soccer issue can be resolved in Santa Clara’s favor pretty easily……..just sue the heck out of Jednick York for the millions they said they’d pay and make Jednick publicly look like the buffoon he’s always been.

    March 27th, 2014 7:19 pm

  27. Dr. Feelgood

    To the aggrieved, and falsely accused misogynist (I’ll take you at your word), my sincerest apologies.
    A word of caution however. For who hasn’t ever uttered an off-hand, tongue in cheek attempt at sarcasm, only to have it come back and bite him/her in the rear?
    To borrow a phrase from the Great Bard, one is “hoisted by his own pitard”.
    Finally, to get ot what I realyy want to discuss, I absolutely accept your offer to check with the hundreds of now grown women you’ve referred to, and am intrigued by the “pretty great job” done in the classroom. My esteem for you is growing exponentially. We’re on our way to becoming best friends.
    Cheers

    March 27th, 2014 7:30 pm

  28. Johnc

    Before passing judgement on the Niners I would like to hear their explanation.
    Maybe they were getting shaken down as Htwaits suggested and then balked on the soccer field commitment.
    Great stuff though on the blogs. I see many did not bother to read Streetguides explanation other than the eminent Dr. Feelgood .

    March 28th, 2014 12:24 am

  29. Streetglide

    Doc, check Tommy Quinn (Bert Jewell) on facebook and I’ll let you in.

    March 28th, 2014 6:18 am

  30. Streetglide

    And I stand by my comments on soccer. I am a fan of Japan’s national squad but that’s about it. As far as getting my feelings hurt by anyone, I can take care of myself on a blog or in an alley, so no worries. Meanwhile, my appointment for my first knee replacemnet is set, an old girlfriend is coming to the house to take care of the critters and we’re getting rain here in Sactown. Three-day weekend, huzzah!

    “Noah” looks like rubbish and as someone who played endless benefits for the farmworkers and the grape boycott I’m going to be a little peeved — no I might even be miffed — if they make whites 100 percent the bad guys in the upcoming Chavez bio. A lot of us were doing our part as well…

    March 28th, 2014 6:24 am

  31. Dr. Feelgood

    Ah, it’s always something. Like a bait and switch, another fantasy dashed against the rocks.
    Unfortunately, my previous experience with Facebook seemed like an exercise in frivolity, so no longer have an account nor a desire to revisit. Not passing judgement, it’s just not for me.

    March 28th, 2014 1:45 pm

  32. Streetglide

    “Ah, it’s always something. Like a bait and switch, another fantasy dashed against the rocks…”

    What does that mean?

    March 28th, 2014 10:54 pm

  33. Henry

    htwaits … Here is the truth– Santa Clara unified school district (SCUSD) DID NOT sue,the 49ers over the redevelopment money .. The County did and SCUSD was entwined because they are one if several taxing entities who were entitied to the $30 million that the 49ers wanted!

    Exactly and specifically who was negotiating? Unlike Santa Clara city council, SCUSD Requires Transparency and negotiations can ONLY happen whe authorized by the SCUSD Board of Trustees. Former Supt Plough has said that the 49ers asked about using SCUSD fields, but when asked for a formal proposal … NOTHING WAS PROVIDED!!

    49ers ARE the bad guys … No one needs to make it up … They are doi g it to themselves. And waiting to the eleventh hour is yet another glaring example of being the bad guys.

    If you can get a copy of their written proposal — share it. In the meantime … The 49ers should not be trying to make SCUSD a scapegoat for their selfishness and childlike behavior.

    March 29th, 2014 12:03 pm

  34. Henry

    And, as a condition of rezoning … The 49ers ARE legally libel for replacing any public asset that is displaced because of the stadium. This is what happens when you build a stadium where it DOESNT FIT!!

    Now. Let’s see if the Santa Clara City Council has the gonads to hold their feet to the fire and ENFORCE the requirement.

    March 29th, 2014 3:36 pm

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