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SANTA CLARA — Although the Rolling Stones got a little extra time on their side at Levis Stadium on Aug. 18, two members of the tours production team have blasted the city of Santa Clara for micromanaging and imposing 11th-hour changes that make the stadium “no longer worth the effort to play there.”
“…Do you not want touring shows anymore? The impression I and many others in the industry have, is your facility is getting so restrictive and dysfunctional, its no longer worth the effort to play there due to the myriad and random rule changes,” wrote John Morrison, site promoter and production manager for the Rolling Stones No Filter 2019 tour, in an Aug. 23 letter to Levis Stadium general manager Jim Mercurio.
Among the last-minute changes cited by Morrison and the bands security coordinator, Michael Wozniak, the city cancelled the concerts pyrotechnic show, requested the bands structural engineer to fly in to inspect the stage — that cost $6,000 — and did not allow them to use a stadium catering area to feed the band.
“Then the no pyro at the last minute, when our pyrotechnician has done countless shows in the stadium as well as across America for numerous artists, without incident, only to be told if he disobeys the demand from the fire department he would be subject to black listing from the state,” Morrison wrote. “really, is this how you operate?”
City manager Deanna Santana rebutted those statements, saying the San Francisco 49ers, which manage and operate Levis, “brought issues very late to the citys attention,” forcing it to make decisions within very short time frames.
“The City has a responsibility to ensure that events comply with building and fire codes, which it did and, it is unfortunate that the Forty Niners and Promoters view this regulatory function as excessive or micromanaging,” Santana said in an email.
The city did apparently allow the Rolling Stones to play an extra hour past the stadiums weeknight curfew from 10 to 11 p.m., although the stadium could still be subject to a small fine.
As for the stadium itself, Morrison complimented it and said hed like to return “under more favorable conditions.”
“Your facility is top notch, your staff commendable, and yet each time someone mentions playing Levis, we all cringe, knowing that some new rule will be applied to the show just before we either start loading in or before the show,” Morrison wrote. “I understand rules and regulations…but the great unknown or random rules makes for a hesitancy on the bookers part to play those stadiums.”
Wozniak, in a separate letter to the stadium manager, said the city pushed for “outlandish, and quite frankly, unsafe” security changes that were eventually abandoned, including erecting barricades around a standing room-only area that Wozniak said would put “our fans at risk by corralling them into inescapable pens surrounded by bike rack.”
“I dont quite understand all of the over regulation and micro management,” Wozniak wrote in an email. “The touring industry has made note of the difficulties and uncertainties presented by the City and eventually will just skip your market.”
Santana said the fireworks show was not cancelled, noting the city received an application from the pyrotechnics company, Flickers, but not from the promoter, which was approved on Aug. 15.
“It is unfair and untruthful for the Promoters to blame the City, when their own application did not propose the use of fireworks and solely the use of Flickers. The City approved the application that it received,” Santana said in an email.
Fire Chief Ruben Torres said the decision not to have a pyrotechnics show was “made by the performer/promoter based on the timing of their run of show because the permit does not allow fireworks after 10 p.m.
“The pyrotechnician chose to abide by the conditions of the permit issued by the Fire Department and did not launch any fireworks after 10 p.m.,” Torres said in an email.
To Wozniaks complaint about using barricades in a standing room area, community development director Andrew Crabtree responded that the city discussed “multiple options” to ensure people wouldnt block exit aisles, and ultimately concluded the stadium could use tape on the ground to mark the aisles.
Morrison also complained about a “last minute request” for the tours structural engineer to inspect the stage, which he claimed has never previously been required at Levis Stadium.
Crabtree said stage inspections are standard practice and other concerts have the same requirement. The promoter knew about this before the permit was issued, about 10 days before the event, Crabtree said in an email.
The two Rolling Stones letters were shared with this news organization by the San Francisco 49ers, which operates and manages the stadium year round.
Rahul Chandhok, vice president of Public Affairs and Strategic Communications for the 49ers, said the complaints from the Rolling Stones staff reflect a combative city attitude that will ultimately hurt the stadiums ability to book competitive talent.
Referring to Santana, Chandhok said, “Her actions would have directly harmed concert goers. Such stunts may appease Mayor [Lisa] Gillmor, but they continue to harm every Santa Clara resident.”
He said the complaints should not surprise the city because Santana was in touch with Rolling Stones staff about the event.
Chandhok added that “almost all, if not all, large scale events” at Levis involve pyrotechnics.
Asked if the 49ers solicited the letters from Morrison and Wozniak, Chandhok said they “encourage and routinely receive feedback from fans and promoters alike.”
The 49ers have quarreled with the city over its management since the stadium opened in 2014, most prominently over the 10 p.m. curfew for weeknight concerts and 11 p.m. curfew on weekends, which they say will drive away high-profile acts and hurt the stadiums event revenue.
Earlier this year, the team blamed the curfew for a disappointing haul, saying its annual event revenue in the last fiscal year came totaled $750,000 instead of the projected $5 million.
A few large concerts at Levis Stadium, including a Beyonce concert in 2016 and Coldplay and U2 concerts in 2017, have violated the curfew, resulting in small fines. British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, who recently set a record for the highest-grossing tour, reporRead More – Source