The curfew has been an issue in Santa Clara since the stadium was built in 2014
Big-name acts like the Rolling Stones, Coldplay, and others have coolly blown through the curfews at Levi’s Stadium for years.
It’s been a source of contention since the stadium was built among residential neighborhoods in Santa Clara nearly a decade ago, with cutoff times set at 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends to protect residents living in its shadow from loud noise blaring late into the night.
The San Francisco 49ers, who manage non-NFL events at the venue, have been fined $1,000 per violation of the curfews over the years — a pittance for a billion-dollar franchise.
The Santa Clara City Council relaxed the curfew slightly in 2021, allowing five weeknight shows to run until 11 p.m. That hasn’t stopped superstars like Taylor Swift and Beyonce from breaking the curfew this summer, much to the delight of the tens of thousands of fans in attendance.
Swift’s two-night run ended at 11:38 p.m. and 11:26 p.m., respectively, while Beyonce’s weeknight show ended at 11:29 p.m. despite a one-hour extension. Santa Clara is still deciding whether to fine the 49ers for the violations, but a city spokesperson previously told the Mercury News that they had received no noise complaints from neighbors, at least for Swift. The city refused to say whether they received any complaints about Beyonce’s performance.
The 49ers have long urged the council to relax the curfew, claiming that it discourages artists from booking shows at Levi’s. Ed Sheeran famously bowed out of a weeknight show in 2017 due to the 10 p.m. cutoff time.
“We believe music fans deserve to enjoy concerts in the way the artist intended, and venues can either adapt to the market or the world’s biggest artists will go elsewhere,” said 49ers President Al Guido in a statement. “The approved curfew flexibility in 2021 allowed us to drive record attendance and profits for the Stadium Authority in 2022, host the world’s largest concert tours in 2023, and generate tens of millions of dollars for Santa Clara businesses and workers.”
According to a 49ers spokesperson, each concert at Levi’s Stadium generates $7 to $10 million in revenue for local businesses. Swift’s record-breaking Eras Tour brought in $33.5 million to the area, according to 49ers consultants.
Despite the 49ers’ request, the council appears unwilling to make significant changes. Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilmember Kathy Watanabe, who did not respond to a request for comment for this story, have long supported the curfew, claiming that it protects residents from the noise. Gillmor and Watanabe, as well as Vice Mayor Kevin Park, who could not be reached for comment, voted against the 2021 curfew changes.
The current curfew rules, on the other hand, appear to have struck the right balance for several council members.
In an interview, Councilmember Raj Chahal stated that while the city needed flexibility to allow some weeknight shows, such as Beyonce, to run later, 11 p.m. should be a hard stop time. He was “disturbed” by the three shows that went on after that this summer, and he believes the city should ensure the 49ers enforce the rule.
“It’s just a management thing,” he explained. “We need to tell the 49ers Management Company to make sure you work out these things, and 11 p.m. is a real cutoff.”
Councilmember Suds Jain stated that he is open to changing the curfew during the summer when children are not in school and daylight hours are longer. He suggested that artists begin later in order to use the night sky as a backdrop for special effects.
“What I’ve been trying to do is get fireworks limited to just quiet fireworks with lots of light and not very much boom,” he explained.
Santa Clara has already taken action to curb after-hours fireworks, fining Swift’s pyrotechnics company, Pyrotek, $2,000 for violating its permit, which was valid until 11 p.m.
However, before the council makes any changes, Jain would like to review the noise level data from Swift and Beyonce’s concerts. The city has not yet given an estimate of how long this will take.
“When we go and do proclamations, naming them mayor, and then we turn around and fine them for going over our curfew, I frankly think that’s not good for business,” he said.
Becker also stated that staying out past 11 p.m. is “really concerning”; in retrospect, he wishes the city had built an enclosed stadium, such as AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, or Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
However, like Jain, he is open to the city exploring curfew changes during the summer months. He does, however, want the 49ers to notify the city if artists plan to stay past 11 p.m. Instead of a fine, Becker prefers that artists donate to local charities.
“It’s disappointing that it’s gone this way, but it’s now about this being a taxpayer stadium with debt on the line, and if we don’t book good events, it’s costing taxpayers money,” he said. “The one thing I want to make sure of is that we pay off the stadium debt.”